Local Civic Rallies Community In Opposition
Serota Brown Court II, LLC, a Valley Stream based company, proposes to build and operate a recycling facility in Oceanside. The company has made Application for a variance, as is required to construct and operate a facility out of character with the surrounding community, to the Town of Hempstead, Zoning Board of Appeals. [A Public Hearing on the Application, previously scheduled to be heard by the Zoning Board on November 30, 2005 and adjourned without date, will give Serota Brown the opportunity to clear the air concerning a recycling plant in close proximity to residential neighborhoods, and will afford all residents wishing to speak to this matter of great community concern the occasion to be heard.]
The Oceanside Civic Association, vanguard of the community's well-being, stands opposed to the construction and operation of the proposed recycling plant. Residents are being urged to consider the millions of tons of trash and construction debris to be carted in to the Oceanside community (and through surrounding hamlets); to envision the congestion of hundreds of trucks carting in the trash; the noxious fumes and odors of both trash and ash, with their detrimental impact on air quality and basic quality of life. And don't forget about the seagulls. SEAGULLS?
Now, given what the random traveler along Long Beach Road or Lawson Boulevard happens upon while taking that leisurely sojourn through Oceanside and environs, one might ask, "Doth residents of the home of the likes of Mount Trashmore and Oil City now see fit to complain? Do they not enjoy even more trash heaped upon the pile? Would they not be willing to pay twice the price for recycling within their own Sanitary District? And, those clams at Pete's Clam Bar don't come from surrounding waters, do they?"
Heaven forbid. Oceanside is no place for trash, no home for the recycled. Be gone, would-be recycling villians. Build your recycling plant where it truly belongs -- Elmont, West Hempstead, or, better yet, at the steps of Kate Murray's Town Hall!
Okay, we jest. Just barely. Oceanside deserves better. A higher use -- say, a municipal parking field. :-)
Fact is, the dumps, the trash, the unwanted masses of garbage yearning to stink up the neighborhood, will -- like the cell towers, the after-hours clubs, the adult video stores, the storage facilities, the illegal apartments, the waste transfer stations, and the sordid debris of humanity -- wind up in the community of least resistance.
The unincorporated areas of the Town of Hempstead, of which Oceanside can make claim, have borne witness to decades of lax zoning and virtually nonexistent Code enforcement. Neglect has been the order of the day, and decline, a seemingly inevitable way of life.
"Why should I give a damn? I don't live in Oceanside?" Why, because if we do not defend the quality of life of Oceanside's residents, who will be there when the time comes to defend ours?
"Well, maybe Oceanside is the best place to put a recycling plant?" Possibly. None of us are strangers to Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY). Still, we need answers to our questions. Do we, in Hempstead Town, really need this recycling plant? Are there sufficient safeguards to protect the community's health? Will the presence of this facility impact adversely upon the character of the surrounding community and/or the health and well being of its residents? What are the benefits to the community, if any, versus the risks?
We don't have the answers to these questions, and, to be sure, there are many other questions just begging to be asked. This is precisely why residents should come to the Town Zoning Board's Public Hearing once scheduled -- to ask the tough questions and, hopefully, to get the straight answers. [The Community Alliance will publicize the hearing date once it becomes known to us.]
In fact, residents of Oceanside and neighboring hamlets, and friends of the environment and community everywhere, should start asking those tough questions NOW, in advance of the Town's public hearing. A community armed with knowledge is, indeed, in the best position to mount a victorious defense.
There is nothing more compelling to a governmental body -- whether an elected Town Board or an appointed Zoning Board -- than the voice of the people. To fill that auditorium at the Town's Bennett Meeting Pavilion with those in opposition -- or those who simply want to know -- sends a clear and certain message: that, after the gavel has fallen and the hearing has closed, the best interests of the community will be served.
To be sure, the decisions of the Zoning Board of Appeals will not be based upon nor swayed by public opinion (nor should they be, the letter of the law to be applied in all instances -- wink, wink). Still, the weight of public opinion can be brought to bear to make certain that the law is applied strictly and uniformly; that "exceptions" are carved out sparingly, if at all; and that the character and quality of life of our communities are, above all, protected and preserved.
The battleground, this time, is in Oceanside. Next time, the battle may rage in your front yard. This, then, is the time for all good people to come to the aid of community -- for that blight upon a tree in Oceanside, left untreated, will, as certain as seagulls seek out garbage, spread to your community.
The Community Alliance, in solidarity with our neighbors in Oceanside, and in cooperation with the Oceanside Civic Association, opposes the granting of a variance to Serota Brown Court II, LLC for purposes of bulding, maintaining and operating a recycling plant as proposed, and respectfully requests that the Town of Hempstead Zoning Board of Appeals, upon full hearing and due consideration, deny cases #975 and #974 as shall appear on the Board's Hearing Calendar at a date and time to be set by the Zoning Board.
Of interest, Serota Brown's Application itself raises eyebrows -- and then some -- requesting permission to "Use premises for recycling of demolition debris & uncontaminated construction materials which may be noxious & offensive." Which part of "out of character with the community" does Serota Brown not understand?
Indeed, it would appear that Serota Brown is appealing to the Board of Zoning Appeals from "the determination of the Commissioner of Buildings that proposed use of the premises for construction & demolition debris transfer station is not a permitted use in the Industrial zone."
Fellas, the Commissioner of Buildings was right!
Then, too, while the Zoning Board cannot consider past deeds in ruling upon present Applications, residents should be mindful of Serota Brown's less than stellar conduct in the operation of a solid waste dump in Oceanside -- a dump owned by Nathan Serota, principal in Serota Brown Court II -- which resulted in $320,000.00 in penalties to the State DEC. [SEE STATE GAINS CLEANUP OF ILLEGAL LONG ISLAND WASTE DUMP.]
Those who wish to comment on the pending Application, or who may be unable to attend the public hearing of the Town's Zoning Board of Appeals, may -- and are encouraged to -- express their concerns in writing to Hon. Gerald Wright, Chairman, Town of Hempstead Board of Zoning Appeals, 1 Washington Street, Hempstead, NY 11550. Letters may be faxed to the Board of Zoning Appeals at 516-483-0432. [PLEASE PUT IN THE SUBJECT LINE: "SEROTA BROWN COURT II,LLC cases #975 and #974".]
Concerned citizens may also contact the Oceanside Civic Association via their web form, or e-mail the association's President, Raymond Pagano, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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A reminder that democracy is not a spectator sport (if it was, we'd be watching the NY Jets on a continuous loop).