10/18/13 12:30pm
10/18/2013 12:30 PM

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | The property owner chose to withdraw his proposal to build a second home on this Fifth Avenue lot.

Shelter Island contractor James Olinkiewicz withdrew his controversial application to build a second rental house on property he owns on Fifth Avenue in Greenport Village, instead hoping to mend fences with neighbors before pitching a new formal plan in front of the Village of Greenport’s Zoning Board of Appeals.

Citing outcry from neighboring residents – many of whom showed up to Thursday night’s ZBA meeting – Mr. Olinkiewicz told members he’d prefer to discuss amending his proposal with the community, privately, before moving ahead.

“I want to find a more harmonious idea for the subdivision,” he said.

Mr. Olinkiewicz originally filed a site plan with the Village of Greenport to subdivide his property and build a two-story rental house with three bedrooms on each floor within a few hundred feet of an identical multi-family rental house he already owns on the property.

The proposed lot would have been about 6,500 square feet, short of the village’s minimum lot-size requirement of 7,500 square feet. Due to the small lot size, and other setback requirements, the application was seeking a total of five variances between the two parcels, which would have required ZBA approval before the Planning Board would have made a final decision on the application.

On Thursday, Mr. Olinkiewicz offered an alternative option, stating that he spoke with a few neighbors earlier in the day about his new plan.

Instead of the initial proposal, he said he’d change the application to covert the first rental on 221 Fifth Avenue to a one-family home and ask the ZBA to permit a second one-family home on the subdivision. Additionally, the deed of the home would be amended so he or future owners couldn’t permit more than one family to live in either structure, Mr. Olinkiewicz said.

Many other neighbors, who came to speak about the original plan and weren’t included Mr. Olinkiewicz’s earlier impromptu community discussion, seemed taken aback by the change.

However, without any officially application on the table, members decided to move on to the next public hearing.

“I would encourage everyone to keep informed with what the new application is,” Doug Moore, chairman of the ZBA said.

Mr. Olinkiewicz said he’d like to hold more private meetings with residents before submitting his new proposal to the ZBA. But, lifelong Fifth Avenue resident Michael Reed, who believes the rental properties have impacted the quality of life on the once quiet street, said it is too little too late.
“If he talked with us in the beginning it would have been amicable, but now there is a lot of hard feelings and I don’t think that will change,” he said after the meeting.

He hopes to have the new application prepared and formally accepted by the ZBA next month. If so, the revised proposal can go before public hearing in December.

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10/17/13 3:54pm
10/17/2013 3:54 PM

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | The proposal would allow the construction of a second home on this Fifth Avenue property.

The Greenport Village Zoning Board of Appeals will hold another public hearing Thursday on a Shelter Island contractor’s controversial plan to build a second rental house on property he owns on Fifth Avenue in the village.

James Olinkiewicz has filed a site plan with the Village of Greenport to subdivide his property and build a two-story rental house with three bedrooms on each floor within a few hundred feet of an identical multi-family rental house he already owns on the property. The new lot would be about 6,500 square feet, short of the village’s minimum lot-size requirement of 7,500 square feet. Since the proposed lot size is smaller than what village code permits, he is required to receive a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals before the Planning Board can make a final decision on the application.

Meanwhile, neighbors who live along Fifth Avenue and have become frustrated by the increasing number of rental properties along the block have banded together in opposition to the proposal. They appeared at recent Planning Board and ZBA meetings to speak out against the plan.

The public hearing will be held Thursday at 5 p.m. at the firehouse.

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10/01/13 10:44am
10/01/2013 10:44 AM
CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | Fifth Avenue residents have united in the fight against a proposed rental house on their street.

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | Fifth Avenue residents have united in the fight against a proposed rental house on their street.

A Shelter Island contractor’s plan to build a second rental house on property he owns on Fifth Avenue in Greenport has drawn fierce opposition from neighbors.

James Olinkiewicz has filed a site plan with the Village of Greenport to subdivide his property and build a two-story rental house with three bedrooms on each floor within a few hundred feet of an identical multi-family rental house he already owns on the property. The new lot would be about 6,500 square feet, short of the village’s minimum lot-size requirement of 7,500 square feet. Since the proposed lot size is smaller than what village code permits, he is required to receive a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals before the Planning Board can make a final decision on the application.

But neighbors who live along Fifth Avenue and have become frustrated by the increasing number of rental properties along the block have banded together in opposition to the proposal. The neighbors appeared at recent Planning Board and ZBA meetings to speak out against the plan.

“This street is saturated with people, more people than were intended to live on it,” Fifth Avenue resident Jack Weiskott said at the September ZBA meeting. “It’s like living next to a parking lot.”

In a recent interview, lifelong Fifth Avenue resident Michael Reed said he believes the rental properties have impacted the quality of life on the once quiet street.

“We take a lot of pride in our neighborhood,” he said. “Everyone [else] here keeps the lawns and their house in place.”

He accused Mr. Olinkiewicz of putting his own business interests over what’s best for the neighborhood.

But attorney Kimberlea Rea of Westervelt & Rea, who represents Mr. Olinkiewicz, said the neighbors’ complaints have no basis and that many of the lots in the village are much smaller than what is permitted under today’s code. In fact, she said the property in question was once two smaller lots that were merged in 1877.

“This is a function of the neighbors being upset about another two-family home in their neighborhood,” she said. “Mr. Olinkiewicz has been accused of being a slumlord and lining his pockets at Greenport’s expense. That is not fair.”

Ms. Rea said Mr. Olinkiewicz is seeking the variance to address the need for more affordable housing in the village. She said the neighbors’ opposition to the plan is racially based, since most of the renters along Fifth Avenue are Hispanic, allegations the neighbors denied.

Planning Board members appeared generally in favor of the variance at an August meeting, but they requested several changes to the application before it can move forward. Those changes include creating a common driveway for each of the two houses and replacing the trees that would be killed once the new foundation was poured.

“Every time you lose a little bit of open space in the village, it’s something that is gone and it’s gone forever,” planning board chair Linn Atkinson-Loveless said during the meeting. “On the other hand, there’s the need for housing. I think that with this particular property, I would be inclined to be favorable toward a subdivision.”

As the ZBA gears up for another public hearing on the subdivision this month, Fifth Avenue neighbors remain optimistic that the builder’s request will be denied.

Ian Wiles, a Fifth Street resident who rents the downstairs of his two-family home, said he believes the board’s decision is simple.

“It is a government entity that has to operate by a specific set of rules,” he said. “It comes down to policy and because of that I think we can rely on the ZBA to make the right choice.”

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