Monday, March 12, 2007

Land Use Research Underway in Glenwood Landing and Glen Head

In response to requests from the United Civic Associations of Glen Head and Glenwood Landing, a group made up of the Glenwood / Glen Head Civic Association, the Todd Estates Civic Association, Hill Terrace Civic Association, and representatives from the Plymouth Drive, Harbor View, and Radcliff Manor neighborhoods, the Town of Oyster Bay (TOB) is conducting a zoning and planning study focusing on the residential districts in Glen Head and Glenwood Landing west of the railroad tracks.

The study ties in with land use measures that TOB recently adopted in Oyster Bay hamlet, many of which will soon be rolled out town wide if approved after appropriate public hearings. The main purpose of the measures is to curb three recent construction trends: knockdowns, so-called “MacMansions,” and boxlike structures built to minimum setback lines.

Some of the measures also are aimed at reducing runoff from construction sites and at protecting steep slopes. New York State has mandated that local municipalities adopt so-called “minimum stormwater control measures” by 2008.

The Glenwood / Glen Head Civic Association has been working to encourage these types of measures for many years. Last month, TOB hired Frederick P. Clark Associates, a consulting firm that handles much of TOB’s land use work, to conduct the Glenwood / Glen Head study. Thus far, three draft maps have been created: an aerial view of the study area, steep slopes and wet areas, and lot size.

Frederick P. Clark is currently working on a fourth map that will illustrate lot frontages. To minimize the cost of the study, TOB has asked the civic associations to submit digital photos of selected homes throughout the study area. About 150 photos illustrating the wide diversity of housing styles in the study area have been taken so far.

The measures the town is considering are accepted by planning professionals as tools for helping to maintain the character, history, and architectural resources of residential neighborhoods. They include a tool new to TOB called the maximum permitted gross floor area requirement (FAR) and a reduction in an existing tool regulating the maximum inclined plane permitted for rooflines (known as height / setback ratios).

Both of these tools have been adopted in many nearby communities. The hope is that, taken together, they will encourage additions, renovations, and new construction to be more consistent with the scale of existing homes and inspire architects and builders to produce more creative, sensitive designs.

Structures built where these tools exist often tend to be less imposing and to exhibit more architectural details than those built in areas where such tools do not exist. The research being conducted by Frederick P. Clark may reveal details peculiar to certain Glenwood Landing and Glen Head neighborhoods that will help zoning, planning, and building code officials more effectively implement FAR, height/setback ratios, and other planning tools.

More than one professional planner has said that several recent subdivisions in Glenwood Landing and Glen Head might well have been prevented or at least modified if such tools had been available during the permitting and review process.

More information about the study will be posted as it becomes available.

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