N. Hempstead to engage surveyor and consultant for Port waterfront business district

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North Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio shared her vision for the future of the Port Washington Waterfront Business District at a meeting in May. (Photo by Jessica Parks)

North Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio announced on Tuesday that the town will hire a consultant and a surveyor for the Port Washington waterfront business district. 

Residents urged the town to make the move at last month’s town meeting where developers and residents alike shared their issues with proposed zoning changes. 

Developers raised concerns that the proposed changes would halt development in the district, while residents were worried about the potential for overdevelopment. 

The board’s proposed zoning code changes include eliminating residential use from the district, eliminating below-ground parking, implementing a 10-yard setback on the front and rear of properties and reducing building height from three stories to two.

Hotel and boatel uses were eliminated from single-use properties and instead can be part of a mixed-use building. A density cap of 35 rooms per acre was introduced for new hotels. 

A boatel is a waterside hotel equipped to accommodate visitors traveling by boat.

De Giorgio said she will head a steering committee of interested stakeholders to guide the consultant through the zoning process after community members reached out to her office asking her to do so.

 “I am very flattered that everyone seems to have so much confidence that I can do that,” she said.

The councilwoman said that some of the property owners have expressed interest in being part of the process. 

At last month’s meeting, Port Washington Chamber of Commerce President Mitch Schwartz suggesting organizing developers to hear how they would like to see the zoning code changed after one property owner reached out to the chamber about the zoning code changes.  

Mariann Dalimonte, executive director of the Greater Port Washington Business Improvement District, spoke out against the idea. “I really feel the chamber should not be hosting these meetings,” she said. “I really feel that it would be a benefit to the Town of North Hempstead to host these meetings.” 

De Giorgio said at the time that it wasn’t that the town is not interested in hosting the meetings but that sometimes people feel more comfortable “not under the pressure of coming into Town Hall” and thought it would be best that the chamber host at least the initial meeting. 

She said on Tuesday she is trying to figure out where and when the meetings will take place but is planning for the first meeting to be held the first week of August. 

So for now, the board continued the public hearing without a date and scheduled a public hearing for next month’s meeting on a resolution to extend the building moratorium to April 1. 

Representatives of various civic groups in Port Washington voiced the need for the town to reserve the recently proposed zoning changes as the foundation for the updates to the code. 

Mike Benedetti, a member of the Mitchell Farm Home Association and the Port Washington Waterfront Association, said he was echoing his neighbors in suggesting that the proposed code dated June 7 be maintained as a baseline and incorporated into the request for proposal with the selected consultant. 

The 11.2-acre waterfront business district was organized in June 2009 and runs along the north side of Main Street from Sunset Park to the west side of Main Street after the curve and ends just before Dolphin Green. A building moratorium has been in effect since December 2017. 

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