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Dougherty: Environmental review for Charlie’s Lane

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO | The entrance to 6 Charlie’s Lane the site of a controversial building project.

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO | The entrance to 6 Charlie’s Lane, the site of a controversial building project.

A new idea was brought to the table on wetland and special permit applications that have consumed the Town Board’s time for the last several weeks.

At Tuesday’s work session, Supervisor Jim Dougherty suggested an outside review to look into environmental impacts to the neighborhood of Charlie’s Lane and Tarkettle Road, the area where Brad Tolkin wishes to build a large residence.

Mr. Tolkin’s plan is to remove an existing structure on Charlie’s Lane and replace it with an 8,297-square-foot house, with eight bedrooms and bathrooms, two half baths and bedroom suites in a garage and basement. It will also include 4,150 square feet of porch, terrace, cabana and garage.

The board has been wrestling with the applications, in part, because neighbors have organized to protest concerns about the size of the proposed project, water usage, traffic and negative environmental impacts if the applications are approved.

“With respect to this terribly sensitive issue, I wonder if we could consider doing an environmental impact statement as a general, comprehensive way of comforting ourselves,” Mr. Dougherty said, before making a decision on how the proposed residence would affect the neighborhood.

Kieran Pape Murphree, an attorney representing Mr. Tolkin, said the plan was for a single-family house, a so-called “Type II” action that doesn’t require an impact statement for approval from the New York State Department of Environmental Protection.

But the language used in subsequent discussion by the board mentioned “review” rather than the DOT’s use of “impact statement.”

Councilwoman Chris Lewis asked who would do a review and who would pay for it.

According to Town Attorney Laury Dowd, either the applicant or the town could choose the firm to conduct the environmental review, but the applicant would pay for it in either case.

“I’d like to know more on how it would be funded,” Councilman Paul Shepherd said.

Councilman Ed Brown asked how long the review process would take and Ms. Dowd said anywhere from six months to a year. After that, the board would have to take more time to review the information.

Mr. Shepherd asked the supervisor what the goal of a review would be. Mr. Dougherty said it “might put us at rest on these issues that are troubling us.”

But Ms. Lewis, admitting to playing devil’s advocate, said, “A lot of these things just allow you to put off making a decision.”

Mr. Shepherd said he was “a little leery of it, because it seems an undue burden in this particular circumstance.”

The mater was left open.

As it stands now, there will be no plant or lawn irrigation that draws on the aquifer at the proposed house, but all water will be trucked in for the grounds and stored in underground cisterns. Landscaping has been reduced significantly from the original plan, with the addition of “drought resistant” plants.

The only water drawn from the aquifer will be for use in the house. Mr. Shepherd suggested that the bedroom and bath about the garage be eliminated from the plan.

As for construction schedules, the board seemed to agree to impose restrictions on outside construction to May 15 through September 15, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In the public comment section of the meeting, Gail Bang, who has been a community organizer protesting various aspects of the plan, asked to present the board with written comments from neighbors and other interested parties. Although the public hearing on the applications has been closed, she was allowed to distribute the comments to board members.

Jane Katz told the board that a concern for many people is that when the Tolkin’s decide to sell, the property will be set up to become a guest house, with the number of bedrooms and each having a private bath.

For this to happen it would require a change of zone, she was told, but Ms. Katz said she has seen it happen many times.

Mr. Dougherty said he had seen single family houses in Nassau County’s “Gold Coast” turned into assisted living centers and other uses “after the Great Gatsby.”