The economic downturn may have slowed the number of applicants picking up building permits in this Nassau County enclave, but it hasn’t done much to ease discontent with what the town has already allowed in the way of construction: an impressive number of neoclassical trophy homes and supersized colonials on relatively small lots.
With longtime residents increasingly complaining that new two-story homes loom over their older houses and change the character of their streets, a proposal to limit the floor area ratio of one-family homes is now pending before the Oyster Bay Town Board.
According to Jack Libert, Oyster Bay’s commissioner of planning and development, officials have traditionally regulated home size by setting a maximum percentage of each lot that could be covered by a structure. If 20 percent coverage was allowed on a 10,000-square-foot lot, for instance, the “footprint” of a dwelling could be 2,000 square feet.
Un-Supersizing for Tomorrow
The new proposal goes a step further. The town is looking beyond the house’s basic footprint on the lot, to rein in the square footage in its upper floors.
Again taking the example of the 10,000-square-foot lot, Mr. Libert explained, the new rules would still dictate that the house’s footprint — its ground floor — be 2,000 square feet, but the developer “could only build 1,300 square feet above that.”
“By using floor area as well as the ground coverage” in the calculation, he added, officials can effectively respond to “what most people might feel is overbuilding.”