Manorhaven residents have many concerns about waterfront analysis

Manorhaven residents have many concerns about waterfront analysis
A resident speaks during Saturday's public hearing on a waterfront analysis in Manorhaven. (Photo by Luke Torrance)

A meeting in Manorhaven on Saturday was the first chance for residents to respond to a waterfront analysis commissioned by the village, and most offered sharp criticism of the analysis and voiced frustration with overdevelopment.

“This looks like a present to developers,” one resident said.

Another knocked Cameron Engineering and Associates, which had put together the analysis.

“This is not the work of a quality engineering firm,” she said.

Throughout the meeting, many of the people in the capacity crowd at village hall — about 70 in total — made it clear that they thought there was sufficient access to the waterfront and that there should be no further development.

The analysis made several recommendations, such as requiring access to the waterfront as part of future developments, limiting density and raising the restrictions on allowed heights.

There has been a building moratorium on the waterfront in Manorhaven since June 2016. A few months later, the village set forth an objective for its policy for the waterfront.

“Our goal is to balance the interests of the community with the rights of property owners,” the statement read.

But most of the residents at Saturday’s meeting felt the report was slanted too far in one direction — a “slippery slope” that would lead to more development along the waterfront. Resident Richard Raskin mentioned the Knickerbocker Hotel in Port Washington, a much-derided development that may have led to the creation of a moratorium along another stretch of local waterfront.

“Attempts to guarantee waterfront access don’t always work,” said Raskin, who previously served as a member of the town’s Waterfront Committee. “A good example is the Knickerbocker property … it was supposed to have waterfront access, it was supposed to have waterfront views.”

Many residents said they had lived in the village for decades and were concerned that more development would further increase density and diminish the quality of life in Manorhaven.

The Board of Trustees, village Attorney Steve Leventhal and two members of Cameron Engineering responded to questions from the crowd and stressed that the study was a preliminary step.

At several points during the meeting, residents wanted to know why the impact of further development on the environment, schools and other things was not studied. Leventhal responded by saying the analysis was not an impact study.

“Studying the impacts is a different step,” he said. “These are developing ideas, any proposal that the board considers they would be required before taking any action to comply with the State Environmental Quality Review Act … which requires [the village] to consider all environmental and economic impacts.”

In response to the concerns of residents, Mayor Jim Avena said the board would consider keeping zoning unchanged in the area marked C-1, which covers the southeast part of Manhasset Isle, which contains the Manhasset Bay Sportsmen’s Club, La Motta’s restaurant and the Manhasset Bay Marina.

After the meeting, Avena said he was not surprised by the response of the attendees.

“I think, for the most part, the residents asked good questions and behaved themselves,” he said. “We heard them … and at the next work session, we’ll formulate our plan for the step after this.”

The next opportunity for residents to share their thoughts on the analysis will be on March 22, during the village’s next Board of Trustees meeting.

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