Hempstead reserves decision on zoning law for Roosevelt Field expansion

Town officials say Roosevelt Field and Green Acress Town officials say Roosevelt Field and Green Acress malls -- the only shopping centers in town defined as regional -- are regulated under separate and wide-ranging zoning requirements. (July 10, 2009) Photo Credit: Yana Paskova

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The Hempstead Town board has reserved its decision on a legislation that would set zoning requirements for two megamalls in the town: Roosevelt Field mall in Garden City and Greens Acres Mall in Valley Stream.

The proposed regional shopping malls law would change the town code to reflect a floor-area ratio -- the ratio of a building's floor space to the size of the land on which it sits -- for Roosevelt Field to 70 percent and Green Acres to 75 percent. The proposed law would also set the maximum building height to 75 feet and up to four stories, and require 4 1/2 parking spaces for every 1,000 square feet of gross leasable area.

"I'm concerned about the expansion of Green Acres Mall," Valley Stream resident and business owner David Sabatino said at the town board hearing Tuesday. "Not only for how it affects businesses along Rockaway Avenue in Valley Stream, but also because due to the traffic, noise pollution and air pollution."

But attorney Daniel Baker, who represented the Macerich Co., the new owner of Green Acres Mall, said they support the legislation.

After requests from Garden City officials and residents, the town board voted unanimously to amend the proposal not to allow the malls to exceed 3.55 million square feet of floor area, instead of the original cutoff of 3.6 million.

"One of the key components of the code was adding in this cap so that the regional malls could not expand . . . as property is purchased surrounding the locations," said Melville-based environmental consultant Carrie L. O'Farrell, who was hired by the town.

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Reducing the maximum square footage at Roosevelt Field would still allow mall owner Simon Property Group Inc. to add a proposed two-story, 100,000-square-foot building to house a Neiman Marcus.

"The hard cap would let them build Neiman Marcus, but that's it," Garden City trustee Dennis Donnelly said after the hearing.

Land use and zoning attorney Tamir Young, who represents two law firms adjacent to the mall that oppose the expansion, said expanding Roosevelt Field would have negative environmental impacts. "The amendment is a minuscule reduction that would not curtail significant impact that Roosevelt Field would have on the surrounding communities," Young said.

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Simon's attorney, William Bonesso, of Uniondale, said the only complaints against the expansion were from Weber Law Group attorneys like Young, whose firm represented competing mall owner Taubman Group, which is seeking to build a mall at the former Cerro Wire site in Syosset. "I don't see any public outcry," Bonesso said. "I don't see the masses."

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