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Some upset by Manhasset parking vote

North Hempstead Town Hall in Manhasset on March

North Hempstead Town Hall in Manhasset on March 5, 2012. Credit: Nicole Bartoline

Opponents expressed shock and disappointment Wednesday about a 5-1 vote by the North Hempstead Town Board to expand parking onto a vacant site behind the Apple store in Manhasset.

The property owner, The Gate Llc, sought a zoning change from residential to parking for a 1.3-acre parcel flanked on the west and south by homes.

A heated, two-hour public hearing Tuesday night drew dozens of residents. Republican Councilwoman Dina DeGiorgio cast the lone "no" vote and received a standing ovation; Councilman Tom Dwyer, a Democrat, was absent.

Most speakers strongly opposed the proposal, citing concerns about additional traffic and a potentially negative impact on their property values.

But Councilwoman Anna Kaplan, who represents the area, said she had heard from many residents who supported the parking plan.

Paul Bloom, an attorney representing the owner, has said adding 90 parking spaces to the 140 would discourage motorists from circling through the nearby street to seek parking. Providing more stalls would also reduce the number of shoppers who park in a nearby lot and cross the street on foot to reach the stores, he said. The site is south of retail property on Northern Boulevard and off The Gate.

Before the town board closed the public hearing, Supervisor Jon Kaiman said, "It's very clear how we need to vote. The way you deal with traffic is to put parking on site."

Referring to decades of debate about the property and previous development proposals opposed by residents, he said, "I certainly understand the level of frustration and anger that people have. The concern that another type of use that could come to us quickly is out there."

Resident Vick Wadhwa Wednesday summed up his reaction in one word: "Stunned." He said, "How can you have more cars and less traffic? It just doesn't make sense. A 5-year-old can do better math than that."

Bloom, who said his client intended to move forward quickly, said the board was "very heroic in its actions, looking beyond emotions and focusing on the reality of the circumstances and came to a proper decision."

With Jennifer Barrios

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