The Garden City Board of Trustees is studying an overhaul of village parking and zoning regulations, particularly in its popular and busy downtown area, to make it more business-friendly, the mayor said.
Two pieces of legislation are before the board. One would change a zoning law to allow restaurants and financial institutions to operate on parts of Seventh Street and Franklin Avenue without requesting a “use variance” from the Zoning Board of Appeals. The current zoning law does not address restaurants or financial institutions, which means that new establishments would need to get a variance to open a business.
The second resolution would change a village parking law to create a “Downtown Parking District” and change other parking rules throughout the village to allow for shared parking for businesses, off-site parking, and reduced parking requirements for some developments.
The board could vote on the zoning law as early as Thursday, Mayor Brian Daughney said.
There also will be a public hearing on the parking law — though no vote is anticipated.
“We’re trying to modernize parking and zoning rules to future uses,” Daughney said.
Garden City has plenty of parking in street spaces and free municipal fields, and could benefit from the changes such as allowing businesses to share lots, said Georges Jacquemart, a founder of Manhattan-based BFJ Planning who was hired to study the village’s parking.
“We would like to have green areas and parks rather than seas of parking,” Jacquemart said. “This doesn’t mean that there’s going to be a parking shortage in Garden City. It’s just going to be more efficient.”
The proposed zoning law changes on sections of Seventh Street and Franklin Avenue, known as the village’s T-Zone, are meant to eliminate bureaucratic red tape and prolonged hearings for businesses just getting started.
“We’ve had an influx of new restaurants and proposals for new restaurants, and the requirement to seek a zoning change is time-consuming and costly,” Daughney said. “We are trying to attract restaurants, it’s good for the local economy.”
The board of trustees is also mulling changes — which must be approved by the Nassau County Planning Commission — to eliminate requirements that new business owners prove there is adequate parking within 300 feet of their location in the suggested “Downtown Parking District” — mostly along Franklin Street from 14th Street to Second Street and Meadow Street. Officials noted that parking lots may be nearby but fall just outside the 300-foot boundary. The 300-foot rule would still apply outside the “Downtown Parking District.”
The village’s Chamber of Commerce supports the changes, executive director Dennis Donnelly said.
“The Chamber has always been in favor of doing whatever we can to encourage business,” Donnelly said. “I don’t know why anybody would be opposed, to be honest. It’s more of an administrative change,” he said of the 300-foot rule.