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North Hempstead Passes Main Street Mixed-Use Zoning

Port Washington zoning change will affect parts of Main Street.

The Town of North Hempstead board passed a measure Tuesday night that will allow both residential and commercial use in one building on parts of Main Street. The approval came after nearly three-and-a-half hours of testimony during a public hearing.

At the start of the hearing, Councilwoman Dina DeGiorgio said that she would be abstaining from voting because the debate about this has become more centered around her than the actual issue. Before abstaining from voting, DeGiorgio explained that she supported the project and thinks that this is the right thing for Port Washington. All of the other town board members voted for the proposal, including Councilman Tom Dwyer, who cited that 15 years ago he disagreed with the Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington group regarding a golf course and that was one of the things that helped to make the town one of the top 100 places to live.

Laura Shabe was the last resident to speak on the issue on Tuesday noted that people against the proposal were represented by 23 total speakers, 18 of those were new; and people for the proposal were represented by 11 total speakers, with five of those new. 

"Where are all the people who think this is a good idea?" Shabe asked. "I can't find them."

She also had petitions that included more than 700 people who were against the proposed zoning change.

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Other Port Washington residents proposed ideas such as enforcing the current code more strictly and conducting surveys of which kinds of businesses people want in Port Washington. Some asked that the proposed zoning change be put to a referendum so that more voices could be heard about the issue.

"My belief is it will make a positive impact," Supervisor Jon Kaiman said of the zoning change. He also noted that the plan had its share of supporters.

The zoning change will allow for some Main Street businesses to expand to a maximum of three stories in buildings that contain both residential and commercial uses. The plan also includes an idea of shared parking, where residents would park in spaces at night that commuters occupy during the day. Initially the plan included several consecutive blocks of Main Street but the latest proposal took some of those blocks out so as not to create a "canyon effect," or in other words have too many tall buildings in a row.

Some Port residents at the meeting encouraged Councilwoman DeGiorgio to vote on the zoning change either for or against just so that someone who actually lives in Port Washington would have voiced their opinion and represented the district.

This article was updated to identify Laura Shabe as one of the residents speaking at the meeting, and her calculation of the total number of people for and against the proposal. 

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Port Victim December 15, 2012 at 01:43 AM
Dear RFMBPW - now that you are done with this rezoning proposal, and have some free time, I am looking for help in putting a Wal Mart down next to the band shelter. Are you available to help?
Local Resident December 15, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Sure, we're available. As long as you hire a: RFMBPW Attorney RFMBPW Realtor RFMBPW Architect RFMBPW Developer RFMBPW Contractor and our, Executive Director is looking for a 3rd job. So yes, you can count on us.
Re zoned December 15, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Available for rent: low income apartments - dont mind the fishy smell, thats just the fish kebabs cooking below
Re zoned December 15, 2012 at 02:40 AM
I think a re-naming is needed here -- how about "Friends for a More Beautiful Cow Bay Contracting"
R Miller December 15, 2012 at 02:13 PM
I think we are giving the TONH to much credit for the down fall of Main St PW. Dangerous drivers, graffiti is our local Police department who do not actively enforce the law, overcrowded train is the LIRR which is a problem unto their own, Derelict stores are pretty much any main street these days (go down Plandome road or middle neck road and see the empty stores as an example of this), parking has always been an issue not as much now since we have all these empty stores now. The dog poop and and trash yes we can blame the TONH. I still add the only way to bring Main St back is to do business with Main St. Let's foster with incentive's business to open up and stay here then it will all work out.
jonathan winant December 15, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Now it's time for the Patch to send these very realistic comments on to the Town Of North Hempstead and to the respective representatives who in my opinion do not represent many of the residents feelings. I can only hope that Adina Gin reads this post and acts accordingly.
jonathan winant December 15, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Last post should have read Adin Gen sorry for the mistake
Local Resident December 16, 2012 at 12:46 PM
There were very strong arguments against rezoning made at the Town Hearings and still the Board decided to approve the proposal. They did not consider the comments made against the proposal and they did not consider the petitions in opposition. It was a done deal before the hearing even started. It's time for the public to stop contributing to RFMBPW and to vote against all the Board Members who voted for the proposal including our Councilwoman who unfortunately still has 3 years on her term.
jonathan winant December 17, 2012 at 07:45 PM
mORE AND MORE PEOPLE ARE SEING REALITY AS IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SEEN MONTHS AGO The Town Of North Hempstead is starting to look like they are not resident frienly.
Local Resident December 18, 2012 at 07:15 PM
RFMBPW: 2006...32.1% of revenue was spent on salaries, benefits, etc. 2007...31% of revenue was spent on salaries, benefits, etc. 2008...27.7% of revenue was spent on salaries, benefits, etc. 2009...60.6% of revenue was spent on salaries, benefits, etc. 2010...60.4% of revenue was spent on salaries, benefits, etc. Salaries going up...as...revenue has been going down. This is a "volunteer" organization?
Local Resident December 18, 2012 at 07:23 PM
The Town of North Hempstead is RESIDENT friendly...very much so.
Craig Baines December 20, 2012 at 02:25 AM
I guess Dina is looking for some of those deep pocketed "Residents" to fund a future campaign? Another politician for sale. She pushes for the rezoning and in an audacious and transparent effort to escape responsibility and blame doesn't vote on it. By not voting NO she voted YES. who is kidding who! This was all worked out in the backroom in an insider political deal that favors the developers over the local residents. How stupid does she think we are? Dina, Port Washingtons BIG mistake, only this Republican could make me want Fred Pollack and we all know how much he sucked. Dump Dina Now !
Local Resident December 20, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Councilwoman DeGiorgio has no shot at reelection. Her decision to abstain from the vote proves she lacks the backbone to perform the duties required of her position. She left a critical decision that is going to affect Port Washington to other members of the Board. This was a terrible miscalculation, left us unrepresented and completely overshadows any of her previous votes that may have had local support. In addition, RFMBPW has shown through their aggressive lobbying for the rezoning proposal that they are no longer a civic-minded-"volunteer" organization. This is a group that sells itself as one thing but is clearly another. With the amount of money that is allocated to salaries and "other expenses", everyone who has donated money to them should absolutely question where that money went and what it was used for. I would not find it surprising if some of those donations ended up paying for more than a few "Vote Mindy" and "Vote David" campaign signs for the recent Water Commissioners election. He is the Treasurer and she is the paid Executive Director, and the signs and ads were "Paid for by friends of David Brackett and Mindy Germain". Just saying. Once properties on Main Street start being reveloped, we will have concrete evidence and a daily reminder of what a bad decision rezoning will have been. There will be large, architecturally inappropriate, visual reminders why we voted out Ms. DeGiorgio and why no one should ever again donate to RFMBPW.
Craig Baines December 23, 2012 at 08:36 AM
NYS/Town law does not allow for a recall election or a referendum on zoning.
Local Resident December 23, 2012 at 06:21 PM
RFMBPW is as responsible for the rezoning of Main Street as the Town Board. Interesting that a "not-for-profit" civic group could accept public funds from the ToNH (ie: our tax dollars) to create, develop and lobby for such specific rezoning legislation. Seems very sketchy, if not altogether illegal.
jonathan winant December 23, 2012 at 06:35 PM
If the RFMBPW was a real community minded group it would not take a rezoning for them to get their butts in gear and start encouraging more property owners and store renters to clean up their acts. This is what happens when a civic minded group get swelled heads. The entire organization should be disolved along with several people in ToNH government.
Rick Atkinson January 03, 2013 at 01:57 PM
I have trouble with "Canyon Effect" and "Kaimonesque Behavior" as terms. I don't quite understand them. I have been reading the comments on this issue and strangely there are none that support the rezoning. Is everyone sitting back in the tall grass waiting to count profits later, or is the whole issue one that people are shrinking from because of its lack of support? The simple fact is that there is no way that sharing parking spots, an idea that even on the surface seems absurd, can work. It is very simple there are no parking spots left near Main Street. Earlier in the comments someone spoke of being from Little Neck and moving here for the charm. I grew up in Little Neck, in the 60's and 70's and at that time Little Neck was charming. No one driving through there now would think that. The idea that no one living in Port even voted on the issue is mind boggling. Why do all these outsiders think that they should have the right to change the heart of Port Washington against the local people's wishes?
jonathan winant January 04, 2013 at 09:34 AM
I am totally against the rezoning proposal and the way in which the ToNH has handled it. I do agree that something must be done to entice new businesses to open in town both on Main Street and along Shore Road. Empty or vacant store fronts do nothing to raise the appeal of opening a business in Port Washington. I agree with those who feel the same type construction which works along P. W. Blvd. will not work along Main Street. I do agree that adding more residential units above stores will work out. I can not see people wanting to pay the type of higher rents which Landlords would have to ask for after they spend money to rebuild on their properties. Then there is the re3quired additional parking stipulation. he entire proposal was so badly thought out that it is laughable at the least. We need more immediate fixes to a problem which might leave us with more vacant store fronts then rented ones. Vacancies do not keep landlords in business!
jonathan winant January 04, 2013 at 09:36 AM
Last post needs to be corrected. I do not feel that adding more residential units above stores will work out that would be the down fall of the entire project.
Local Resident January 05, 2013 at 09:26 PM
If you look at the storefronts along Main Street within the Overlay Districts, there is actually only a small percentage of storefronts that are vacant...the claim that Main Street is deteriorating and is a "slum" is all negative propaganda to forward RFMBPW's "Model Blocks" agenda and it's Director's personal gains. It's only a few very visible properties that have remained vacant for years and those properties' owners should have been held accountable for their "deterioration".
Local Resident January 05, 2013 at 09:57 PM
Actually, that wasn't my intent...I intended to write "it's Directors' (plural) personal gains." But now that you mention it...
jonathan winant January 05, 2013 at 11:50 PM
The real fact is more store are going vacant. the reasons I am sure vary. Along Shore road one strip mall is in banckruptcy so this delays the opening of a family owned theater which would rival; Clearview Theaters. Port Washington is in deep S---t for many reasons first the recent storm made it look very unappealing for shops to open here ( no brainer). The parking problems discussed on the Patch did little to entice new store owners to consider this area. Then there was the traffic and drivers who endanger others which all are detterents to thoughs who considered opening a business in P.. W. For those who have nothing to say but bad things try doing what I did. I contacted Staples, Office Depot, The Gap, Office Max and other stores in an effort to have them consider opeing something in Port Washington None have found it feasible even after they considered doing so. Sit on your butts and let things go along as they may and stop complaining unless you join me and the others who show a real concern for the Community. Write to policitians or stores corporate offices and speak up. Please stop belly aching and not doing anything positive for those who have taken positive action over the years I thank you and would like to meet you. There is a serious problem in P. W. Garbage all over Main Street,. Too many people do not give a damn about how their town looks! Dangerous streets! well look at the way some people ignoire traffic laws! Jonathan Winant
Local Resident January 06, 2013 at 01:04 AM
I think say "Port Washington is in deep ____" is a very strong statement, and very much incorrect. Our town has withstood the greatest downturn in the economy since the Great Depression very well. Our properties have retained, and in some cases increased, their values. (Some) existing local businesses have re-invested in their businesses, and new businesses are opening up up and down Main Street. Enrollment in the local schools have increased. I would rather have Port Washington the way it is, instead of the "future, 3-story, block long buildings" that RFMBPW and ToNH has shoved down our throats. Development for the sake of development is oftentimes taking many steps in the wrong direction with no way out.
jonathan winant January 06, 2013 at 02:06 PM
Judging from numerous comments or blogs on the Patch you will understand how residents feel about our community. Readers write about traffic problems and Policing not being addressed. Garbage along Main Street, vacant businesses, Parking issues and more. These are the types of problems which do little make a town look good. Still the Town of N. Hempstead is more focused on rezoning areas which already have mixed use buildings some of which are even taller then what the town wants to allow. As I stated the type of store fronts which definitely work along P. W. Blvd. are not what many would want on Main Street. It appears with the mandatory parking for new mixed use buildings this would be the way things might end up. The other possibility is more vacant buildings. Then there is the vacancies along Shore Road and why they can not be filled. I contacted numerous businesses who said they considered the area but backed out. Figure out why?
jonathan winant January 06, 2013 at 02:12 PM
Readers might like to know that in an effort to have vacant stores along Shore Road filled I contact a handfull of corporate businesses. Contacted were the type of businesses we do not presently have available in P. W. Contacted were The Gap, Old Navy, Staples, Office Depot, Office Max just to name few. Letters i received explained that some have considered P. W. and then backed out. Others felt this area is not suitable for there type of business. Discussed was the property once home to Hollywood Video. Even that site with ample parking was turned down.
Local Resident January 08, 2013 at 05:11 PM
This is so past the point of even being believable: RFMBPW 2013 Gala Honoree is: Jon Kaiman Get your tickets early.
Port Citizen January 08, 2013 at 06:15 PM
Of course he is their honoree. Rezoning is RFMBPW's baby. They handed it off to ToNH to get it completed. Kaiman pushed it through, while his council people followed like sheep barely showing a real emotion either in favor or opposed to the idea. Our local Rep Dina abstained from voting. The local people that followed this processed screamed all the while, but no one cared to really listen. the only ones not scream - RFMBPW's Board Members So, they honor him for carrying out their vision, while ignoring the more popular sentiment against the idea. Reprehensible. Adding another layer to our government, we have added RFMBPW. Lest anyone be fooled they are just a 'grass roots' organization, doing good work for the people. they are a politically funded/supported not for profit, that takes $0.60 of every dollar that people give to cover the salaries of their staff. The noble intentions of the founding of this group 40 or so years ago was wonderful, and did great things. However, what this has morphed is an entirely different creature.
Local Resident January 08, 2013 at 06:56 PM
This should be a wake-up call for those who continue to donate to RFMBPW and continue to think that RFMBPW is not politically motivated and still "in-it-for-the-people". Now that the rezoning proposal has passed, RFMBPW is not even trying to conceal their true intentions anymore. WAKE UP ALREADY.
jonathan winant January 08, 2013 at 11:35 PM
Wake the hell up Port Washington residents!!!! Before the rezoning we allready had mixed use buildings exceeding the height which the re-zoning would allow. Before the rezoning proposal we had mixed use buildings and not one had to supply on site parking. Before talk of the rezoning we had the RFMBPW helping to beautify Port Washington not destroy it. So now we have a passed proposal to rezone what was allready there. Scratch your head and wonder what we and the Town Of North Hempstead, John Kaiman and Dina (no vote) did to our town at who's expense.
jonathan winant January 08, 2013 at 11:37 PM
Lets all wait and see what this costs residents in innconvienance, parking headaches, taxes, garbage, construction and other obvious and un-discussed problems.

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