Port Washington industrial building plan called 'sneak attack'

North Hempstead Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio (R-Port Washington) North Hempstead Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio (R-Port Washington) speaks during an interview in Port Washington. (April 15, 2013) Photo Credit: Steven Pfost

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Hundreds of people packed North Hempstead Town Hall last week in opposition to a proposal to build an industrial building on town-owned land in Port Washington, prompting the town board to vote to postpone the public hearing in order to hold it at a larger venue.

Dejana Industries proposes to build a roughly 56,000-square-foot building for its offices, manufacturing, maintenance and other operations on a 5-acre parcel on West Shore Road. The company, which provides garbage removal and street sweeping, among other services, would consolidate its operations, currently based in two locations in Manorhaven, at the new site. The company has been in contract with the town on the parcel since August 2012, and is requesting a zoning change, language changes to the zoning district and approval of a site plan and special permit.

Residents of two nearby developments packed the room Thursday night and spilled out into the hallway, at times heckling the company's attorney, Kathleen Deegan Dickson of Uniondale, as she made her presentation. "The new building is going to be very attractive -- certainly more attractive than the salt dome that's there," she said, prompting angry howls from the audience. "It will be a credit to the area."

Rob Calica, president of the Harbor View at Port Washington homeowners association, called the plan "a sneak attack on the residents," saying that the town failed to reach out to nearby residents on a project he claimed would hurt their quality of life.

"Many of the people came out here tonight not just because they were concerned about the issue, but they were concerned about the lack of process," said Bill Coddington, chair of the Harbor View community relations committee. "We really felt we deserved some heads-up from the town."

Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman said the process has not been secret, but he added that the town would meet with representatives from the community before the next public hearing is scheduled. "This is going to be a very, very public process," he said. "It's going to go on for however long it takes."

On Aug. 13, the board will decide on when to set the next public hearing on the issue.

"We received a lot of input from the public," councilwoman Dina DeGiorgio, who represents Port Washington, said after the meeting. "Now we have to take what the public is saying, analyze it, pay close attention to it, and we have to decide what our next step is."

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