For a number of years the Town or North Hempstead in partnership with a group called Residents For a More Beautiful Port Washington (RFMBPW) have been pushing for a new Business Overlay District (BOD) in Main Street and lower Main Street that will follow a modified version of the building code. This proposed code includes a new section named article XXC that has specifically these objectives:
Any common person would be in agreement with these arguments in the new article, so I thought that it was nice, and I researched the whole proposal. After digging a little bit the associated amendments to the current code, article XVII, I found however that this new article XXC fails to detail transparently on the much more important “benefits” for the adopters that will result in a negative impact for the community. These “benefits”, quoted next, and its ramifications clearly shutdown the initial objectives:
§ 70-140 D “Properties located within the Port Washington Business Overlay District and in full conformity with the standards of Article XXC, Mixed-use buildings having a ground floor containing one or more of the uses authorized under § 70-138.A. through C. and residential use on the upper floors may be permitted when authorized by the Town Board” This quote from the new proposed code means literally that 2 additional floors of high density apartments can be constructed above the commercial ground level.
§ 70-142 C “In full conformity with the standards of Article XXC the maximum height may be increased to 45 feet for a peaked roof in accordance with § 70-140” So higher buildings will be indeed authorized if the proposal is approved, but despite this fact RFMBPW and their supporters keep denying this.
§ 70-143. F “The maximum density may be increased to 24 dwelling units per acre when authorized by the Town Board” This clearly means that several more residents and professional business commuters will be coming to our town
§ 70-195.22 C “Inclusion within this overlay district shall neither change the underlying zoning district designation” I quoted this right from the proposed new Article XXC because it is inconsistent with the proposed layout that in fact does include a residential zone lot in the second zone of the proposed business district (section 5, block 34, Lot 220). In fact, cherry picking this second lower Main Street section after Dina De Giorgio (our council woman) arrived to the town board during the last year, would result in a change of zone Residential to Commercial of this plot, that along with the neighboring vacant lots will result in a lucrative commercial gain in value for the owner, and a reduction in commercial/residential buffer for the adjacent properties. In addition, this will result in more space available for high density dwellings as described in §70-143.F in lower Main Street. This section of main street is a really controversial step that has been denounced by neighbors and exposed to the board since this land has been owned by Mrs De Giorgio husband Mr Joe D’Alonzo company in the past, and the status today may not to be different since the current composition of the company owning this land is not publicly available at the Department Of State, and repeated requests by residents to make this transparent have failed.
Having new and higher density of residential living as proposed in 70-140D and 70-143F above will in fact bring more people to the Port Washington and exacerbate the traffic and parking problems, no only parking for casual shopping, but especially the lack of space to park in the train station to commute to the city. While the upper Main Street new residents may walk to the train as argued by RFMBPW, certainly the new residents in the low main street will not. In addition, it is just a matter of time that other areas in Main Street ask for a “fair” right to extend this business district with residences to them making things even worst.
These new houses in the current Over Lay proposed map cover about 5 acres that according to their own guidelines (page 5) will include up to 24 times 5 acres equals 120 dwellings, but when asked the impact on the school system there said that they made studies that show minor impact. After asking for days for these studies, I finally got a link to the studies to discover that the studies show that most LI (by average) has seen a decrease in number of students over the time, perhaps this was their justification, but Nassau county and specifically Port Washington, after seen local numbers, remain steady thanks apparently to the growing in Immigration population that is already over 20% (see page 4 of the BOCES study).
I was shocked to learn that each new student cost everybody $25000, so to have an idea of what this means I searched it the studies a bit more. First, I estimated how many students this will add. One of the studies that the town seriously presented to me, didn’t show specific data for Port Washington, or Nassau in the type of density sought, in fact it was a 1966 study, but crossing and interpolating data from other tables in this same study shows that for similar apartments with about 24 dwellings for acre, it could be estimated a total of 9 students for acre, and remember this area covers 5 acres. This easily translates today in up to 9 X 5 = 45 new students at $25000 each that is over $1Million dollars by year. While this may not look for some people a crazy tax increase, it does not take in account other expenses. For instance the BOCES study, that the town gave me, suggest that a very significant part of this growing will be immigrant students that often demand bi-lingual services and other ESL help.
Having bigger buildings as a result of 70-140D and taller as would be authorized by 70-142C cannot help to a more beautiful Port Washington, this eventually will have a “city-cannon effect” and in lower Main street will cut beautiful views of the bay to several of the properties behind in Covert and Jackson Street that paid premium in the past for that privilege.
So I wondered why RFMBPW that presents themselves almost as the Port Washington beauty police is pushing so hard for this proposal that may benefit business, but certainly affects negatively nearly all residents. The answer was just researching who is who in RFMBPW. With exception of a few, this group is composed by architects, realtors, attorneys, accountants, business owners in Main Street, and developers as Mr Joe D’ Alonzo, that for years has been pushing for a big development in lower Main Street.
What is very disturbing with Mr Alonzo in the board of directors of this group, is that he has been pushing for years for a beautiful Port Washington with the proposal of beautiful store fronts etc, something that everybody would agree with, but during the same time his company has been breaking the code for years leaving the vacant land at lower Main in total disarray with a dangerous dead tree, weed well over the code stipulated limits, and often illegally parked vehicles. Just remember that his wife, our council woman that should be enforcing the code, has been inexplicably and strongly supporting his cause in a clear and immeasurable conflict of interest.
While these amendments to the code to allow mixed use may bring some economic rent income mainly for the landlords, it is really difficult to see how can add up to the other 3 main objectives of the proposal. In fact, it is easy to recognize that the opposite is true.
There are many other arguments against this development that will end with the exclusive spirit of our town. I just focused in the clear supported facts.
Find more and please voice your opposition to this plan here at http://www.gopetition.com