Residents are asking that a mixed-use commercial property in Levittown be restored to a single-family home.
Members from the Property Owners Association, Councilman Gary Hudes and a number of residents attended the Board of Appeals hearing Wednesday to speak out in opposition to the proposed variances at 123 Balsam Lane.
The front of the property is the former Sam Jon’s Hair Studio, which faces Hempstead Turnpike, while the rear of the property is an apartment located on Balsam Lane, a residential street.
The owner applied for the following variances, including maintaining the retail store and one apartment, which is not permitted in the LPRD district. Other variance requests include waiving off-street parking, special exceptions to park in front yard setbacks on Balsam Lane and Hempstead Turnpike and permission to park in the LPRD District, and a variance to install a dumpster with a 6' high enclosure, also not permitted in the LPRD District. Article XV of the LPRD can be found here.
Gerard Ritter lives next door to the property. Ritter and several residents strongly oppose plans for the building.
The property has technically been illegal since 1979, Ritter said. At that time, the previous owners were approved for a beauty parlor at the site, but Ritter said the board told residents that no permits were ever issued.
“The whole building has been illegal since 1979, and now the owner is trying to legalize something that has been illegal since 1979,” Ritter said.
Residents have a number of concerns with the commercial plans for the building. The safety of the block, the character of the neighborhood and following the LPRD code “to preserve the integrity of the plan of the original Levittown," are among the biggest concerns.
Lawyers for the owner said they want to make things right, but Ritter said residents were skeptical.
“They proposed that they would make this a beautiful, improve everything,” Ritter said. “But the house has never been maintained. For one, no snow has ever been shoveled. There are a few elderly people who walk down that block during the winter to Stop & Shop and they said for years it’s never been shoveled.”
The installation of a dumpster on Balsam Lane was
another issue brought up, with residents concerned about the smell and quality of life on the street.
The final outcome will be determined by the board, who said they will go out to examine the property to see for themselves what the area looks like and to get a feel of it. All participants who signed in at the hearing will be notified by mail of the outcome.
“We are all eagerly awaiting their decision,” Ritter said.