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Board mulls 6-month halt on Port Washington waterfront projects

Port Washington's Main Street waterfront between Third Avenue

Port Washington's Main Street waterfront between Third Avenue and Covert Street, seen on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The North Hempstead Town Board is considering implementing a six-month moratorium in Port Washington’s waterfront business district that would preserve public access while preventing overdevelopment.

Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio, who represents Port Washington, said it is time for the zoning regulations in the waterfront business district to be revisited. The moratorium is designed to prevent overdevelopment of the hamlet’s waterfront, preserve public access and maintain its “small-town” charm, De Giorgio said.

“A lot of what makes Port Washington a desirable destination is our waterfront,” the councilwoman said. “We want to make sure we’re not giving way to development that is going to take away from the public’s ability to enjoy the water down there.”

The board will discuss the proposed moratorium Tuesday at a public hearing.

The waterfront business district, which spans about 10 acres, runs along Main Street from Sunset Park to Dolphin Green, town officials said. It includes popular restaurants such as Louie’s Oyster Bar & Grille and recreational businesses such as the Manhasset Bay Yacht Club. There are no vacant lots in the district; the Town Dock and Sunset Park are the only two undeveloped parcels, said Rebecca Cheng, a town spokeswoman.

The moratorium would prohibit the issuance of building permits, demolition permits, special permits and any other approvals related to development for a period of 180 days, according to a draft of the local law. It does not apply to residential permits, subdivisions and site plans that are pending before the town. Building permits issued by the town for which site plans have also been approved prior to the moratorium are also exempted.

Supervisor Judi Bosworth characterized the moratorium as a “pause” that would give the town board the “opportunity to look at the big picture and see what could be done to benefit all of Port Washington.”

“We felt that perhaps we could do a better job at protecting the waterfront businesses and also preserve the town’s nautical heritage,” Bosworth added. “Everything is on the table.”

Among the regulations to be reviewed are the standards for height, bulk and density, town officials said. De Giorgio said she wanted to revisit an idea to connect the Bay Walk, a waterfront scenic trail in the village of Port Washington North, to the business district.

Access to the waterfront remains easy for residents and visitors meandering around the neighborhood and taking in the views. The goal is to maintain this openness, De Giorgio said.

The hearing begins at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, at 220 Plandome Rd. in Manhasset.

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