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.