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Minutes of the General Membership Meeting of the Westmoreland Association
January 19, 2004
The meeting was called to order at 8:05 p.m. by President Walter Mugdan. A
motion was made and seconded to read the minutes from the November meeting, and
Secretary Susan Keenan proceeded to provide a summary of them. Upon motion, duly
seconded, the minutes were approved as read. Treasurer Frank Keenan gave the
Treasurer’s Report, indicating a balance on hand of $17,896.64 as of January
19th. A motion was made to accept the Treasurer’s Report, the motion was
seconded, and the report was unanimously approved.
A follow–up report on old business matters was the first item on the agenda. Mr. Mugdan reported on his discussion with an officer of the Little Neck Pines Association on the neighborhood’s ongoing concerns with the traffic problems anticipated by the presence of the Korean Church on Northern Boulevard. Plans for connecting driveways providing the opportunity for “flow-through” traffic will not be realized, but the Church does intend to bolster its ability to provide parking for its members through the use of a valet service. Since the use of this type of (possibly illegal) service along Northern Boulevard presents its own set of problems for residents of the area, Mr. Mugdan will have a further discussion with the people at Little Neck Pines and will also ask Community Board 11 to look into the matter.
Mr. Mugdan advised that he will follow-up with the City once again on the matter of four-way stop signs on 41st Drive between Little Neck Parkway and Nassau Road. One of the members noted that another accident had occurred that very day at the intersection of Morgan St. and 41st Drive, and another member suggested that perhaps the major insurance companies would have an interest in helping us to resolve this matter. Mr. Mugdan will check with Community Board 11 as to any pertinent information they might have on file, and will go on record with them as respects this issue. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Dent, who reside on 41st Road, brought to the members’ attention the fact that the problems with the private driveway situation at the newly constructed homes on 41st Road remain unresolved.
Neighbors directly affected by the problems with the new construction at 43-06 Morgan Street proceeded to list violations that had occurred at the site and discussed the builder’s apparent lack of interest in rectifying the problems. Mr. Mugdan noted that he would write a letter indicating the Westmoreland Association’s concern with these infractions and suggested that the neighbors do the same. He also advised that he had obtained a full copy of the building plans and suggested that those who were interested should stay after the meeting to go over them in detail.
Next on the agenda was the introduction of our guest speaker for the evening, Mr. Paul Graziano, by Mr. Mugdan who explained that Councilman Tony Avella had commissioned an independent zoning survey for the district and that Mr. Graziano was the urban planner who had conducted that study. Mr. Graziano proceeded to provide a description of the parameters of the study noting that, in addition to the zoning issues, it also catalogued natural resources and buildings of architectural and historical interest in the area. He stated that the Westmoreland area is properly zoned and that our covenants and restrictions have helped greatly in preserving the neighborhood, but suggested that vigilance is needed to prevent unwelcome development and that letters written in support of the efforts of neighborhoods in our district that are not as well protected as ours would be very helpful. He also urged the members to indicate their approval of contextual zoning recommendations and to encourage support for the Raritan court decision which would force New York City to include certain currently excluded house areas such as basements, live-in attics (and possibly also hallways) in the “living space” calculations for new construction (for the purpose of calculating floor-to-area ratios).
According to Mr. Graziano, the most effective way to halt unwelcome development is to secure local landmark status for the area, a process that could begin once state and national historical designations are obtained. The New York City Landmark Commission has traditionally indicated little interest in granting such status to areas outside of Manhattan and, therefore, community activism is crucial to garnering their attention. He believes that the majority of the Westmoreland area could support historical designation and that, while the national/state register distinction is only a recognition, the nomination does become a filed report in the State and is a “springboard” for securing the local landmark status. In answer to members concerns with limitations imposed by the designation, Mr. Graziano advised that homes in land-marked areas cannot be demolished and that, while outside alterations do require the homeowner to obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Landmark Commission, interior alterations are not affected at all. Mr. Mugdan asked about the time, effort and money involved in this procedure and Mr. Graziano offered to provide specifics in a special meeting devoted to the subject, if the group is interested. Mrs. Virginia Dent then moved that the Westmoreland Association investigate the issue, explore the various possibilities, and that we begin to formally educate ourselves on the topic. The motion was seconded and passed unanimously.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:50 p.m.
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