A proposal to create "mixed-use" buildings along Main Street in Port Washington stirred up nearly two-and-a-half hours of conversation at Tuesday's Town of North Hempstead meeting. Residents can still weigh in through Dec. 11, as the measure was carried over to the next meeting.
Approximately 30 people gave their viewpoints about the project, which would allow residential and commercial usage on parts of Main Street and create a limit to the buildings' height at three stories. Before the stakeholders spoke at the public hearing, Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio spent about 15 minutes outlining the process up to this point and the goals of the project.
She explained that this zoning change's goals were to revitalize Main Street, attract new shops to the area and help support local businesses, among other things. There was a meeting at the Port Washington Public Library about a year ago regarding proposed changes to Main Street and at that time people were concerned about the height of buildings, possible change in density of the downtown, parking, traffic, and whether the school district would become crowded, De Giorgio said.
De Giorgio noted that with the current proposed zoning change, all potential projects must come before the town board in a public hearing. As for density, she said that 18 to 24 units an acre of housing could be added and with 0.16 children per unit, about 13 children could possibly be added to the district through the additional of apartments along Main Street.
"This change will be slow, gradual and in the best interest of Port Washington," De Giorgio said.
Of those people in the packed Town Hall room who disagreed with the proposal, some cited feeling as De Giorgio has a conflict of interest because of a property they thought she owned along Main Street. After the meeting, De Giorgio said that neither she nor anyone in her family owns this property, and therefore does not have a conflict of interest. She also said that she has to file sworn documents about conflicts of interest once a year to the ethics board, as do all town board officials. Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman said during the meeting that any question about property ownership by De Giorgio would be clarified before the vote on this proposal and that to his understanding she does not have a conflict of interest in this case.
Yet others stated they opposed the proposal because they wondered how it would revitalize businesses that are challenged by tough economic times and steep competition. They wondered too how it would beautify Main Street.
Those favoring the proposal cited excitement over having more young professionals, perhaps who grew up in Port Washington, able to live in the area. They also liked the idea that developers would be more willing to work on properties on Main Street and the improvement of Main Street's aesthetic.
The hearing was left open until the Dec. 11 Town board meeting so that people adversely affected by Hurricane Sandy can still voice their opinions on the proposal.