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Manhasset parking lot plan splits residents

A renewed proposal to expand parking behind the Apple store in Manhasset has divided the surrounding community.

The property owner, The Gate Llc, has requested that the North Hempstead Town board change the zoning for a vacant 1.3-acre parcel from residential to parking.

Paul Bloom, an attorney representing the owner, said the plan to add 90 parking stalls to the current 140 would discourage motorists from circling through the nearby residential street to look for parking. Offering more spaces would also reduce the number of shoppers who park in a nearby lot and have to walk across the street to reach the stores, he said.

The town board voted Tuesday night to continue the public hearing on May 29.

The site, south of retail property fronting Northern Boulevard and off The Gate road, is surrounded by homes to the south and west.

Residents -- some of whom opposed a similar plan proposed and withdrawn last summer -- spoke against the plan at the public hearing earlier this week, citing concerns about added traffic, lowered property values and encroachment into their neighborhoods.

Julian Bailey, a former president of the Strathmore Village Civic Association, said the government had previously assured residents that the area would remain a recreational buffer zone. He called a recent rumor that a church could be built on the site a "scare tactic" that had been used before during 20 years of debate over proposed uses for the site.

"We need this extra encroachment? I don't think so. No more broken promises," he said, as some in the crowd applauded and rose to their feet.

But some who previously criticized the idea now said they could live with it, finding a parking lot preferable to a building. Resident Ralph Giordano said, "A parking lot, to me, is acceptable."

Andrew Schwenk, president of the South Strathmore Village Civic Association, said his group voted to support the parking plan.

Theresa Larre, president of the Strathmore Village Civic Association, meanwhile, described her group's members as being "divided" on the issue.

In the 1940s, the site was rezoned to allow recreation and parking. In 1992, following a request to allow an office building on the property, the town changed the zoning to residential.

In January, the town board approved the 7,802-square-foot expansion of a one-story retail building next to the Apple store and Daffy's.

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