Town of North Hempstead tables restrictive covenant decision

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The North Hempstead Town Board adjourned a public hearing Tuesday on an application to build a Cumberland Farms convenience store on the site of a gas station at the intersection Marcus Avenue and New Hyde Park Road in New Hyde Park.

Town Councilwoman Lee Seeman, who represents the district in which the proposed convenience store is located, said she needed more time to consider whether the town should waive a restrictive covenant on the property that precludes a store from being more than 750 square feet.

“I’d like to work with the applicant concerning its proposal while taking into consideration the needs of the community,” Seeman said. “In order to do that, more time is required.”

The Town Board of Zoning Appeals approved an application in 2015 for Cumberland Farms to build a 4,650-square-foot convenience store and gas station on a site currently occupied by a Gulf service station.

But the town later learned that a 1992 restrictive covenant precludes the store from being bigger than 750 square foot legal,  planning Commissioner Michael Levine said last month.

An attorney for Cumberland Farms said Tuesday his client had no intention of modifying what was agreed upon prior to the discovery of a restrictive covenant with the Town of North Hempstead.

“If the board lifts the restricted covenant we will abide by the BZA’s prior approval and build what we had all agreed would be appropriate for the property,” attorney Steven Schlesinger said. “We’re not looking to change that at all.”

Levine said at Tuesday’s town board meeting that if the covenant was waived by the board, Cumberland Farms would need to repeat the application process and again face zoning board approval for the project.

North New Hyde Park civic activist Marianna Wohlgemuth said she was concerned the company would decide to alter their original plans and seek approval to subdivide the property if the board lifted the covenant.

While zoning code allows a subdivision to the property, Levine said, it may not be the right idea for the project.

“It meets the technical requirements that allow a subdivision but we all question whether that would be a better layout,” he said.

Schlesinger said Cumberland Farm had no intention of subdividing the property, only to develop the properly for the use previously approved.

“When you look at the zoning coverage, you’re looking at less than 10 percent of the lot will have a building on it,” he said. “We’re not looking to change it. We’re Cumberland Farms. We want a modern Cumberland Farms on the site the way it was worked out with the community. Nothing more, nothing less.”

If plans remain as originally approved, Wohlgemuth said, the community would be happy with the project.

“We’re looking forward to the property being redone,” she said.

The board voted to adjourn the public hearing until the Feb. 23 meeting.

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