The Town of North Hempstead (TONH) voted on and approved code changes for the BW Waterfront Business District at their most recent virtual meeting on Oct. 22. After an 18 month long process, which included more than 20 public meetings, resident feedback and several amendments to the code, the changes were finally brought before the board for a vote. Town of North Hempstead councilwoman Mariann Dalimonte began the meeting by reading aloud a statement regarding process that went into drafting these code changes.
“Over these past nine months, in addition to all of my discussions with the Steering Committee, I’ve had hundreds of emails and phone calls from people concerned about the height, bulk and density of any future development in the BW zone,” Dalimonte said. “As both a lifelong resident and the representative for Port Washington, I requested some additional changes be made to the final proposed code. I believe the code we will be voting on tonight is the right code for Port Washington.”
This new code allows for a number of modifications including an increase from one parking stall per dwelling unit to two parking stalls, no more than 60 percent of the lot can be covered by any type of impervious material or other type of paving, the density allows for 15 dwelling units per the acre, 40 percent of all units must be senior housing and 80 percent must be a one bedroom or studio. For a hotel, the allowed density is 30 units per the acre. The height of the building must not exceed 30 feet, or two stories, lot coverage cannot exceed 60 percent of maximum lot area. Rear yard set backs must be 25 feet and side yards must be a 15 foot minimum and 30 feet between neighboring dwelling units.
Residents were given the opportunity to speak prior to the board’s vote. While several residents thanked the members of the Steering Committee, the Town of North Hempstead board members and councilwoman Dalimonte for their hard work, many residents also reiterated their concerns regarding the affect these changes might have on the waterfront.
“The waterfront is the treasure of the town,” resident Lowell Peterson said. “Getting this zoning right will affect that treasure for generations to come. We only have one opportunity to vote on a rezoning. When the development starts those [buildings] will be there essentially forever.” Peterson stated that although he is in support of the changes, he wishes the changes included an even greater reduced height and bulk.
“We hope that the communities goals, which are visual and physical access to the waterfront will be met as plans go forward under the revised zoning,” Peterson stated.
Mitch Schwartz, from the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce spoke as a resident of the community and urged the board to vote against the proposal.
“I am urging that you guys do not vote [in favor of] this proposal because I don’t think that the developers will be able to economically develop the properties,” Schwartz said. “I do not see any indication that there have been any studies under this zoning that they will be able to do so. I urge you to turn this down.”
Several residents also had concerns regarding Sunset Park, which falls under these zoning code changes. While the Port Washington Water Pollution Control District has been looking to get rid of this piece of property, Dailmonte stated that the TONH “will not allow this property to be transferred into private hands.”
“The [sewer district] will tell you that no one can build on Sunset Park,” Dailmonte said. “There are sewer lines throughout the entire park and they have easements to them. They own this property. We are waiting for an answer from the New York State Comptrollers office to find out exactly what can be done with this property and if it can remain in the sewer districts hands using taxpayer’s money for anyone that belongs to the Port Washington Sewer District.”
“This is established as a park, so it is subject to alienation legislation and whatever long-term conditions are put on that,” TONH Planning Commissioner Michael Levine said. “We have taken the position that this is always going to be a park. The fact that it may transfer into private hands, or it may not, does not mean that it’s ineligible for the development parcel, so we are going to stay on top of this issue.”
Dalimonte assured the community that as a resident of Port Washington herself and the town councilperson, she will be making sure that Sunset Park remains in public hands.
After listening to all of the public comments and concerns, many of which were addressed and clarified during the meeting; the board voted on the proposal.
“I just want to commend councilwoman Dailmonte who inherited this issue, [she’s made] sure that the residents of Port Washington got a good compromise, where not everyone is 100 percent happy but it’s what’s best for the community,” Councilwoman Viviana Russell said.
Ultimately, the code was approved 7-0. The Town of North Hempstead will hold their next meeting on Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. Visit www.northhempsteadny.gov for more information.