More than 1,500 people have signed a change.org petition stating their opposition to the proposed development project for the property located at 145 West Shore Rd. in Port Washington.
Southern Land Company (SLC)—a Nashville, Tennessee-based real estate development company filed an application to the Town of North Hempstead in November 2020 and is seeking a change in zoning from “Residence-AAA” to “multiple residence” for the property. The applicant is proposing to construct a seven-level, 176-unit multiple residence on the 7.17-acre, partially-underwater property.
SLC is proposing one, two and three-bedroom rental units in the complex. The smallest one-bedroom unit will be 870-square-feet. The largest two-bedroom unit will be 1,544 square feet. There will be a total of nine three-bedroom units at approximately 1,810 square feet. The development company is also exploring plans for a marina that would include a publicly accessible pier and 29 boat slips available for rent among residents and the general public. They are also hoping to include a public promenade that would connect their project with North Hempstead Beach Park.
Late last month, SLC held a series of four webinars for the Port Washington community to throughly address their plans for the property. Former Nassau County Legislator/former New York State Senator Craig Johnson, representing Long Point Advisors, moderated SLC’s second webinar.
“We’re very excited about this project and what it’s going to do for Port Washington,” Johnson said to the nearly 60 participants.
SLC’s Vice President Dustin Downey stated that this particular rental property will appeal to “empty nesters” and “elder millennials,” who are single or newly married. Approximate rent costs will range from $3,450 to $11,000 per month. The property will also include workforce housing units for those who earn less than $60,000 a year.
The property, however, will require a lot of remediation before anything could be constructed.
“To call it a blight on our community, it’s an understatement,” Johnson said. “There is some real major environmental contamination that’s on this site, and Southern Land is committed to cleaning it up beyond the bare minimum in order to get the project done.”
Downey stated that the company is “prepared to spend between $5 and $12 million to clean up the property.” Downey said that SLC does not have plans to apply for the New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program, stating that they would like to remediate the property further than what the cleanup program requires.
The Beacon Hill Residents Association created the change.org petition many weeks ago and garnered several hundred signatures. However, following SLC’s presentation on Feb. 24-25, the petition’s numbers nearly doubled.
“We want to stop the rezoning, period,” Leslye Kress, from the Beacon Hill Residents Association said.
“We don’t want it to become multiple residences,” Hilary Himpler from the Beacon Hill Residents association said. “They are allowed to build single family houses there. If they want to build single family houses there—good luck to them. That area is a flood zone.”
Several residents also commented their reasons for signing the petition, citing concerns such as traffic congestion, overpopulation, excess stress on the school district, sewer and water district, emergency services (fire and police) as well as the effects this proposed development may have on the wildlife and native plants in the area.
On the issue of traffic, both Kress and Himpler stated that Port Washington is already quite overpopulated and traffic congestion in the area has been a problem for years. They both stated that adding a large number of residents to the community would cause even greater congestion in the area.
The Town of North Hempstead, who has been named the lead agency in the project, must comply with the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) in order to determine the potential environmental impacts that the proposed changes to the zoning may have on the surrounding area. The town has identified eight potential areas of concern including: surface water, groundwater, flooding, aesthetic resources, transportation, noise, odor and light, human health and community plans and character.
Kress stated that she feels there is currently a lack of information included in the draft scope, noting that the effects on human health and aesthetic resources have not been addressed.
“I don’t remember hearing a single statement about the effect on human health,” Himpler said. “[And] the aesthetic resources is something that definitely needs to be considered because it means more than just how pretty it is, it means how are we using the land, and does what we are doing with it fit with the environment around it? This doesn’t fit with all the rest of Port Washington—it makes no sense and environmentally it’s a disaster.”
“There is a lot of hand waving still going on and it’s disheartening. I would’ve thought that by now they would’ve had a better handle on what they are building and what the impacts would be,” Kress said.
The Town of North Hempstead will be holding a public scoping session on Tuesday, March 23, at 6 p.m. The community will have opportunity to comment on the scope of the issues to be considered during environmental review. Residents can email their comments to be included in the scoping session to firstname.lastname@example.org. Written comments must be received 30 minutes prior to the meeting. Residents who are interested in attending the virtual meeting can visit www.northhempsteadny.gov/townboardlive. For more information or to receive updates on the project, visit 145westshoreroad.com.