July 11, 2008

Baldwin Residents Rail Against Plans for Condos

By Eden Laikin, Newsday, Melville, N.Y.

Jul. 11--Plans to turn the 1.6-acre site of an American Legion Hall on Grand Avenue in Baldwin into a 21-unit condo complex drew complaints from more than two dozen residents when the proposal was made to the Hempstead town board this week.

Long Beach developer Abraham Shokrian, represented by Valley Stream attorney Albert D'Agostino, is seeking permission to rezone the 90-by- 700-foot property from single-family home zoning to condominium use. The town board has reserved decision.

Critics of the plan say it is out of character with the rest of the residential neighborhood and that a development of that size would generate traffic and environmental issues.

The proposed complex would have only one driveway for entry or exit, residents said.

"There's not enough room," said Toby Rissin, who has lived on the street behind the hall for 28 years. "There's sanitation trucks, firetrucks. If anything happens there, people are going to be trapped. There's no way out. This is going to be an absolute nightmare."

Neither D'Agostino nor Shokrian, who has faced similar controversy over developments in Long Beach, returned calls for comment.

D'Agostino, a longtime GOP committeeman, has represented a number of high-profile clients. He was featured in a Newsday story in April as having gotten 21 years of retroactive state pension credit for his work for several local school districts even though he had been a private contractor. He retired in 2000 with an annual $106,700 state pension.

In all, about 15 of the 30 residents who attended the town board meeting Tuesday spoke out in opposition to the plan, which would put clusters of 2 1/2-story buildings with lower-level garages on the site.

Residents interviewed said 80 homeowners signed petitions to try to stop the development.

Some said the proposed development would worsen existing storm drainage and sewer waste problems for houses on or near the local canal. Others said these taller-than-typical units would "tower over neighbor's yards."

Still others said that the project would add to the already large volume of school bus traffic on Grand Avenue.


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