The Town of North Hempstead voted unanimously on Sept. 27 to extend the building moratorium in the Waterfront Business (B-W) District to Jan. 1, 2019.
“The reason for that is, while we have been working very hard at the town and I do want to commend Michael Kelly in the town attorney’s office and commissioner Levine and the planning and staff, they’ve been working tirelessly to come up with a new B-W zoning code, we do have what we hope is close to the final version of the code, but we’re not ready to disseminate it and we’re not ready to schedule a public hearing,” said councilwoman Dina De Giorgio. “We do need a little bit more time.”
De Giorgio explained that she, along with the board, did not want the moratorium to lapse before implementing the new B-W code.
During the public hearing, residents voiced their support to continue the moratorium.
“I would like a little longer moratorium period than Jan. 1,” said resident Lori Rothstein. “We’d like to have some additional meetings like the one we had in July. Many people were away during the summer.”
Many residents echoed Rothstein’s sentiments and brought up concerns regarding the potential code.
“In speaking with neighbors, a lot of us are in agreement with the town in terms of concerns about residential and mixed use development on the waterfront,” said resident Michael Benedetti. “At the same time making public access a priority along with view corridors. We’re asking that as you review the code, don’t approve anything that will increase density and height on the waterfront. From the presentation, that was a big concern.”
Jennifer Rimmer spoke on behalf of Residents Forward, explaining that the organization and the town share many of the same goals including , incorporating sustainable practices, incorporating the ability to balance passive and active uses, maximizing public access and connectivity and views and maintaining and enhancing the character of our community. However, Residents Forward does have some concerns.
“With respect to the developers, we know that they have their goals, however, building height and fitting in with the existing neighborhood are important to everyone and everyone has unintended consequences to consider for impacts to special districts, parking, tax base and an individual tax base,” Rimmer said.
Owner of Long Island Boat Rentals William Gordon asked that the board keep in mind the services that reside on the waterfront include his business along with the sailing school that allow residents to not only look at the water, but go out onto it.
Resident Kevin Muller voiced concerns about the potential increased traffic and safety hazards adding additional residential buildings may have on the area. Twenty-year resident of Third Avenue, George Meserulis stated that he supports the extension and working on a new building code so Port Washington does not see a repeat of the Knickerbocker property.
“As a resident of Third Avenue, we lost our sunset views and we lost the little available street parking to hotel patrons and workers for the restaurants on the dock,” he said. “So with my water view taken away [and] with the workers of these new mixed use buildings parking on my street, there was no tax compensation. If the waterfront becomes like Long Beach with co-ops and tall buildings, what happens to all the people who invested decades in Port Washington?”
De Giorgio ended the hearing by stating she and the board would work on extending the moratorium past Jan. 1, 2019. Another public hearing will be set and another vote will take place with a new date.
“I will make a commitment that we will do it as long as we’re allowed to do it,” said De Giorgio. “And we’ll have one more meeting probably after the holidays and probably not until we have a code to present.”