Following the adoption of a moratorium on development along Port Washington’s waterfront, North Hempstead Town officials have proposed new zoning regulations designed to preserve public access and prevent excess building in Port Washington’s Waterfront Business (“B-W”) District. The Town’s B-W District encompasses approximately 10 acres adjacent to Manhasset Bay, and runs along the west side of Main Street from Sunset Park to Dolphin Green. According to North Hempstead Town Code, Article XVIIA, the B-W District was established “to promote, enhance and encourage water-dependent uses and increase opportunities for public access along the Town’s commercial waterfront.”
At a well-attended meeting held on July 25, 2018, at the Port Washington Public Library, Supervisor Judi Bosworth, Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio and Commissioner of Planning Michael Levine, using PowerPoint slides, presented the Town’s findings made during the moratorium and their ideas and proposals for new zoning regulations in the B-W District.
Commissioner Levine compared the unique character of Port Washington’s waterfront to vibrant waterfront communities on Long Island, such as Port Jefferson, Northport and Greenport, and also Newport, Rhode Island, all of which provided inspiration for the proposed changes. He then identified the goals and objectives of the new zoning regulations, which include encouraging an appropriate mix of land uses, contextual building design, and the creation of more public access and open space. The proposed regulations are intended to create a more vibrant and accessible waterfront community, while maintaining the area’s small-town character.
In order to accomplish the stated goals and objectives, the proposed regulations would place additional limits on building height and density to reduce the scale of development and require that new structures be arranged so that Manhasset Bay is both visible from the street and accessible to the public. This would be accomplished by requiring, among other things, a minimum view corridor of at least 35 feet extending from the front property line to the water’s edge. A public access corridor of at least 20 feet would also be required along the shoreline that would allow the Town to extend the Bay Walk south to Sunset Park.
While the proposed regulations call for a reduction in the “as of right” height limit and density, they offer incentives for increased height and density to developers who propose smaller buildings, provide additional open space, and incorporate “green” sustainable infrastructure and enhanced architectural design elements into their buildings. For instance, the 18 dwelling units per acre baseline density for residential buildings in the B-W zone may be increased up to 36 dwelling units per acre based on a numerical scoring system that rewards developments that maximize open space and public access and are designed with desirable architectural elements.
In addition to changes to the bulk and area requirements of the zone, certain developments proposed in the B-W District would be subject to an amended review process under the new regulations. New development on properties larger than 25,000 square feet would be subject to site plan approval by the North Hempstead Town Board, which would review the layout of the building on the site and the adequacy of landscaping, lighting and building design. Developments which propose a residential component would also require a special use permit from the Town Board.
According to Town officials, the Town Board intends to hold a public hearing to consider the adoption of new regulations for the B-W District in the fall, prior to the expiration of the moratorium in November 2018.
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