Hearing Tuesday night on mixed-use plan

The Dolphin Bookshop, which has been serving Port The Dolphin Bookshop, which has been serving Port Washington since 1946, currently occupies this Main Street location. (Oct. 6, 2011) Photo Credit: T.C. McCarthy

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Public hearings will be held tonight on a proposal to allow for a new business-overlay district and mixed-use developments along a portion of Main Street in Port Washington.

The hearings, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. at North Hempstead Town Hall, come after nearly three hours of testimony last month from supporters and opponents of the plan.

Town Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio said the rezoning and district proposal, which would apply to 40 properties, most of them on upper Main Street, has been in the works for several years and is intended to revitalize downtown.

Under the proposal, residential units would be allowed above storefronts as a conditional use in the new overlay district, and new design guidelines would be created with suggestions about building facades, signs and storefronts.De Giorgio said several studies found that the new apartments would have a minimal impact on the school district.

Dan Donatelli, co-president of the nonprofit Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington, which helped to create the proposal, said the idea is "an attempt to bring some planning to the peninsula in a thoughtful, intelligent and gradual manner."

But critics of the plan said it would not address the issue of empty storefronts along Main Street.

"You can't possibly have the storefront business you had 40, 50 years ago," said Port Washington resident Jim Ansel. "The clock is not going to go back."

Laura Shabe, coordinating committee member of the Port Washington Voice, a group that opposes the plan, said Main Street can't handle any increase in density. "This congested part of the peninsula is not the right place for this kind of densification," Shabe said.

An anti-proposal online petition that Shabe's group started had attracted about 300 signatures by Sunday.

De Giorgio acknowledged critics of the plan at the Nov. 20 hearing, which was continued until tonight due to complications from superstorm Sandy recovery."I listened to what you said and I really tried to mitigate some of the concerns that you had," she said at the hearing. "We only want what's best for the town. We simply do not agree on how to accomplish the goals."

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