Surprise! During the summer of Covid-19, the Town Board of Oyster Bay passed Local Law 4 of 2020, amending Chapter 246, the Town’s zoning code, to eliminate apartments over stores or offices as a permitted principal use in the Nonresidence District designated as Neighborhood Business (“NB”), Central Business (“CB”), and General Business (“GB”).

This town-wide code amendment prohibiting apartments over stores has received little coverage, based in part by the Governor’s Executive Orders and emergency restrictions, which eliminated the normal public hearing processes.  In fact, as of this writing, there has been no press release or other public announcement of this code amendment, but for the mandatory public notice of the hearing.

Apartments over stores and businesses were an “as-of-right” right uses prior to this zoning code amendment.  The rationale for this extensive code amendment is not clear; however, statements made on the record by Town officials indicated a need to “assist” downtowns across Oyster Bay while at the same time balancing it with input from locally interested parties.

The intent of this local law creates more oversight of apartment applications over stores throughout the town.  Absent express permission from the Town Board, apartments over stores and business are no longer permitted under Oyster Bay’s Zoning Code.  More public participation both for and against apartments appears to be guaranteed in Oyster Bay.

As in much of Nassau County, rental apartments in Oyster Bay are in relative short supply compared to demand, yet mixed-use buildings in the right locations have generally been considered highly profitable.  This code amendment promises to affect many property owners in ways both large and small.  Unfortunately, the extent of these impacts will not be known for several years.

So if you didn’t know about the code change, now you know.