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Garden City law helps restaurants, financial institutions

The Garden City board of trustees agreed to amend a zoning law designed to help restaurants and financial institutions in the village’s downtown area.

The new law, unanimously approved by the board on June 1, affects businesses on parts of Seventh Street and Franklin Avenue known as the T-Zone, village officials said in a news release. Previously, the law did not address restaurants and financial institutions so the business owners were required to obtain a “use variance” from the Zoning Board of Appeals in order to open. Now the law creates categories for restaurants and financial institutions so owners do not need to seek variances.

“We are making it less cumbersome” for new owners, Mayor Brian Daughney said in the release.

The new law includes some restrictions. It prohibits financial institutions from being located within 300 feet of each other in the T-Zone. It also bans ATMs and drive-thru windows for banks and restaurants in the T-Zone area.

The village Chamber of Commerce supported the changes.

The Albanese Organization, a Garden City real estate firm, and the Castagna Realty Co., of Manhasset, opposed the T-Zone amendments, according to a letter their attorneys submitted to the board of trustees on June 1. The real estate companies said in the letter that the issue was not studied properly before the vote and alleged conflicts of interest with the Chamber of Commerce. The letter says some of the chamber’s officers and directors own properties, are principals of companies that own properties, or have clients who own property within the T-Zone.

The village trustees are “required to apply principles of comprehensiveness of planning rather than merely reacting to special interests,” the letter stated.

Dennis Donnelly, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said his organization does not have conflicts of interest. “We’re only trying to do what’s best for the village,” he said.

The board of trustees is also considering amending parking regulations to make the village more business-friendly.

Daughney could not be reached for further comment.


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