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Officials mull more public access, less height, density along Port Washington waterfront

North Hempstead Town officials discussed preliminary ideas, such as extending the Bay Walk, at a public hearing attended by hundreds of residents.

The waterfront business district spans about 10 acres

The waterfront business district spans about 10 acres and runs along Main Street from Sunset Park to Dolphin Green. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

North Hempstead Town officials have proposed implementing numerous zoning changes to preserve public access and prevent excess building in Port Washington's waterfront business district.

At a July 25 meeting attended by hundreds of residents, officials suggested extending the  Bay Walk and implementing new limits on height and density to help maintain the area's small-town character.

Michael Levine, the town’s Commissioner of Planning and Development, said the inspiration is vibrant waterfront communities such as Greenport or Port Jefferson.

“Every community has a few things that are unique,” Levine said. “The [Port Washington] character is similar to some of these places.”

Ideas floated to maintain public access included providing a public access corridor of at least 20 feet along the shoreline, setting requirements for view corridors and extending the Bay Walk from Port Washington North down into Sunset Park.

Town officials also proposed multiple regulations regarding height and density of new construction, such as limiting non-residential buildings to two stories and 35 feet, and putting in place front-yard setback requirements. To keep density in check, the town proposed requiring larger lots for mixed- and multiuse development. The review process will also potentially be amended, with properties larger than 25,000 square feet requiring site plan approval and residential plans requiring a special-use permit.

The town is several months into a 10-month moratorium on development along Port Washington's waterfront  that prevents the issuance of building permits, demolition permits, special permits and any other approvals related to development.

The town’s waterfront business district, which spans about 10 acres, runs along Main Street from Sunset Park to Dolphin Green. It includes popular restaurants such as Louie’s Oyster Bar & Grille and recreational businesses such as the Manhasset Bay Yacht Club. Town spokeswoman Rebecca Cheng previously told Newsday that there are no vacant lots in the district.

Following the presentation, residents provided feedback and submitted questions that were fielded by Councilwoman De Giorgio and Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth. Town officials assured residents that their comments would be considered in the coming months.

“This is all a work in progress,” Bosworth said. “This is a start-off point of what we’re thinking about all the concerns that have been raised. . . ”

De Giorgio assured residents there would be further conversations.

The next public hearing is slated for the fall, prior to the November expiration of the moratorium.

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