An area of urban blight on the north side of...

An area of urban blight on the north side of Hempstead Turnpike near the Elmont Road intersection. (Jan. 22, 2012) Credit: Newsday/Audrey C. Tiernan

The Hempstead Town Board voted unanimously Tuesday to modify the Elmont rezoning plan to include mixed-use development on some parts of Hempstead Turnpike, but with the addition of aesthetic requirements.

The proposal would rezone the blighted corridor through downtown Elmont from the Queens border to Franklin Square into four sub-districts with specific uses, building height requirements, design and parking guidelines.

The board also voted 6-0 with Supervisor Kate Murray absent to amend the plan to add aesthetic requirements and create a review panel. The board delayed final approval of the rezoning plan until after those amendments are included.

"I think it is time to execute this plan and move on," Councilman Edward Ambrosino said.

Elmont community advocates and residents said they were pleased with the decision to include mixed-use development in the rezoning. The change would allow apartments above ground-level retail stores in some areas along the turnpike.

"You took a lot of bullets in the past two weeks and you responded," Elmont Chamber of Commerce member Muzzio Tallini said, referring to complaints about the absence of mixed-use development in the original plan.

Town consultant John J. Saccardi, of White Plains-based VHB Engineering, Surveying and Landscape Architecture, said mixed-use development creates additional tax revenue and allows for pedestrian-friendly areas. He recommended mixed uses along Hempstead Turnpike and Elmont Road, but community advocates said they want Meacham Avenue to be considered.

West Hempstead Community Support Association president Rosalie Norton suggested the town work on making the turnpike safer for pedestrians.

"How can the area be pedestrian-friendly when you can't cross the street?" she asked.

Eric Alexander, executive director of Vision Long Island, a nonprofit community planning group that supports downtown and transit-oriented mixed-use development, suggested lowering speed limits to ensure pedestrian safety.

"If we are going to encourage mixed-use, we need to make it safe for the people who would live there," he said.

Proposed zoning subdistricts

Neighborhood Center

  • Plainfield Avenue/Elmont Road and Meacham Avenue sections.
  • Promote a mix of businesses, including stores, offices and restaurants geared toward pedestrians and transit users.
  • Up to four stories (no more than 60 feet).
  • Gateway

  • The western edge, near Belmont Park.
  • Provide development options to support the racetrack, including hotel, conference center, restaurant.
  • Up to six stories (75 feet).
  • Shopping Center

  • Just east of Elmont Road/School Road on the north side and a portion on the south side west of Meacham Avenue.
  • Enhance existing shopping centers.
  • Two stories (30 feet).
  • Highway Business

  • The rest of the turnpike corridor.
  • Attract and retain a variety of businesses.
  • Primarily two stories (30 feet).
  • Source: Hempstead Town

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