An application for a Harley-Davidson dealership in New Hyde Park has generated a community outcry to rival the noise often associated with the motorcycle brand.
At a public hearing Tuesday, more than a dozen residents spoke against plans to locate a showroom and repair facility at 1324 Jericho Tpke. Discussion of noise, traffic and quality-of-life concerns got heated, and the village board of trustees agreed to leave the hearing open and revisit the matter next month.
The applicant, Amir Jarrah of Life Long Cycles Inc., is seeking to demolish the existing buildings of Miller Brothers Plumbing & Heating, which had occupied the 614-acre lot since 1924.
The Harley-Davidson building would be a larger 9,806-square-foot, 27-foot-tall two-story building. The proposed site is less than a mile from the Hillside Public Library and the New Hyde Park Road School. It would also be on the same street as two churches.
Terry Morin, a longtime resident, said she wasn't certain she would continue residing in the area if the dealership is approved.
"I think this will destroy the character of the village," she said.
Jarrah is requesting a special-use permit for a motor vehicle sales and service center, as well as a variance from the zoning board of appeals for a reduction in required parking space size.
The project's architect, John Notaro of Glen Head, fielded questions from the board and discussed the buildings' functions and future operations.
"Harley-Davidson is an American company," Notaro said. "People should not judge by what they see on TV. It's a wholesome local community. We should welcome this as a plus to the neighborhood."
Notaro and Jarrah emphasized that the site is in a commercial area along a busy thoroughfare and is close to a Long Island Rail Road station.
Jarrah -- who also owns a Harley-Davidson store at Kennedy Airport that sells apparel and other items, but no motorcycles -- said the New Hyde Park location would replace his franchise in Great Neck, Miracle Mile Harley-Davidson, which is approaching the end of its 10-year lease. He said the New Hyde Park site was selected based on a Harley-Davidson map charting customer density. According to this data, there is a high concentration of existing customers in communities stretching from Mineola to New Hyde Park.
Another point that was heavily debated at the hearing is the lifestyle associated with Harley-Davidson in particular and motorcyclists in general.
"This is not just a retail site," said Cameron Blattner, noting the "bikini bike washes" and other events at Jarrah's Great Neck franchise.
A few motorcyclists who live in the village also opposed the application.
"They love noise, they love speed," said Andrew Faglio, who said he was in a motorcycle club for many years. "They're going to come blasting down these side streets. It's all part of the fun of riding."
The board of trustees recommended that Jarrah consult traffic, sound and real estate experts for discussion at a hearing next month. Notaro said he would plan to have the testimony ready in November.