'Flexible' Coliseum zoning plan approved

The Hempstead Town Board hailed as "flexible" a new zoning plan it passed unanimously Tuesday for the 77-acre area around Nassau Coliseum and the Marriott Hotel.

The board approved a new mixed-use zone district for the site following a public hearing. The zoning provides a framework for development of the 5.4 million square feet surrounding the Coliseum, officials said.

"We needed to take an unprecedented step of having a zone created for this site that will accommodate reasonable and balanced development around the Coliseum," Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said.

The rezoning has nothing to do with the lease and revenue-sharing agreement to be announced Wednesday between Islanders owner Charles Wang and Nassau County.

The new plan allows a variety of prospective uses -- residential, retail, entertainment, parking, office, hotel, restaurant or a new or refurbished Coliseum -- but no casino. A developer must choose at least two uses per parcel, and there are six parcels in the site, officials said. The plan also requires that 3 percent of the site be used as noncommercial open space.

Mixed-use, office and most other structures cannot be more than four stories high. The plan allows for 500 homes no more than three stories high, some affordable housing, and a maximum height restriction on hotels of 100 feet or 10 stories.

The plan includes roadways that incorporate bicycle lanes and pedestrian walkways, and it "contemplates" a reconfigured interchange at the intersection of Meadowbrook Parkway and Hempstead Turnpike.

Eric Alexander, executive director of Vision Long Island, an advocacy group that promotes smart-growth initiatives on Long Island, expressed concerns that the site might not truly be mixed-use.

"We don't want to see a Coliseum and an empty parking lot," he said at the meeting.

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