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Subdivisions lead to overcrowding, Greenport residents tell Planning Board

12/18/2015 7:45 AM |

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Greenport residents say small, overcrowded housing lots in the village are leading to overdevelopment and other problems, and they urged the Greenport Village Planning Board not to approve any more subdivisions Thursday. 

The two specific subdivision applications that triggered this response both came from developer James Olinkiewicz of Shelter Island, and both were on for discussion at the Planning Board’s work session meeting Thursday.

The first proposal deals with property on 238 Fifth Ave., which Mr. Olinkiewicz proposes to subdivide into lots of 5,392 square feet and 4,026 square feet.

The larger lot already has a two-family house on it, and the smaller lot would have a new, 800-square-foot, one-family home built on it, under the proposal.

Both lots would require variances from the village Zoning Board of Appeals since the current minimum lot size allowed is 7,500 square feet.

The other application is on 221 Fifth Ave., where Mr. Olinkiewicz owns a lot that’s 3/10th of an acre, or 14,206 square feet.

Mr. Olinkiewicz proposes to subdivide that into lots of 7,619 square feet and 6,587 square feet. There’s an existing two-family house on the larger lot proposed and new construction is proposed on the other lot, which would need ZBA variances in order to be below the minimum lot size. It would also need variances to allow it to be closer to  neighboring properties than the village code permits.

Jack Weiskott of Fifth Avenue submitted a petition signed by 35 residents opposing any further subdivisions on Fifth Avenue.

“We are dismayed at the seemingly endless overdevelopment in our village,” Mr. Weiskott said. “Single-family homes are increasingly being purchased by investors and are frequently converted into overcrowded two-family rentals.

“Fifth Avenue, in particular, is possibly the most densely populated street in the village, with resultant heavy traffic and on-street parking.”

He said the road has essentially become a one-way street because of all the cars parked on the side of the road.

“His proposal will not meet code and therefore should be denied,” said JoAnne McEntee, who lives next door to the 238 Fifth Ave. property.

She said the village code calls for gradually eliminating uses that don’t conform to zoning.

“The code needs to be followed,” she said, adding that the variances being sought are excessive.

“How much smaller can the village make a lot and build on it,” Ms. McEntee said. “Southold Town would never allow such small lots to build on.”

Ms. McEntee said she believes Mr. Olinkiewicz will put two-family homes on the new lots. “I can almost guarantee that,” she said, saying he has a history of converting one-family lots into two-family lots, and that he owns at least 30 lots in the village.

“This is another sign of overcrowded within our village,” Ms. McEntee said.

“I don’t see Mr. Olinkiewicz buying property on Shelter Island and destroying property where he lives,” Mary Ann Jaeger of Front Street said.

Diane Peterson of Sixth Street suggested the Village Trustees enact a moratorium on “substandard building,” saying these are not the only applications for subdivisions that would create smaller than permitted lots. (Mr. Olinkiewicz also has another subdivision application before the Planning Board on a Third Street property.)

“We have to look at the village overall to make sure we are not urbanizing the village, and we have to look at overcrowding,” she said.

“Making it Queens is not what any of us want to see happen,” Ms. Peterson said.

Mr. Olinkiewicz’s attorney, Kimberlea Rea, said the application clearly states that the proposal calls for a one-family house.

She said Mr. Olinkiewicz has, in every instance in the village, rehabilitated old buildings and brought them up to code.

“Many of these were dilapidated, disheveled, unlivable buildings,” she said. “At 238 Fifth Ave., he took a 19th Century building, a very beautiful old building but one that really needed renovation, and did it beautifully. I would like to make it clear that his intent is to create housing that is code compliant.”

Planning Board chairman Devon McMahon said he doesn’t believe there should be a moratorium on all subdivisions because some are appropriate and some aren’t.

In this instance, he said these are substandard lots being proposed and the Planning Board would have to deny it, although the applicant could still subsequently apply for variances before the ZBA.

Planning Board members Ben Burns and Peter Jauquet had both said at the beginning of the meeting that they felt the village should consider a moratorium on subdivisions in the village, something Fifth Avenue residents had asked the Village Trustees to do through a petition submitted on Nov. 19. It had 38 signatures.

Ms. Rea said she understands the Planning Board has to deny the application, and she would like to take the application to the ZBA.

The Planning Board, with members Pat Mundus and Chris Dowling absent, voted to put off any official action on the application until its next voting meeting in January, when it will likely reject the application.

If the applications can get ZBA variances, they would eventually come back to the Planning Board for public hearing and a possible vote at some point in the future,  Mr. McMahon said.

Photo Caption: Fifth Avenue resident JoAnne McEntee, at podium, was one of several residents to speak against allowing small lots to be subdivided at Thursday’s Greenport Village Board work session. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

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