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Hearings on new homes, supermarket draw opponents

Hempstead Town Hall Plaza is at 1 Washington

Hempstead Town Hall Plaza is at 1 Washington St. Credit: J.C. Cherubini, 2011

Strong opposition resonated at hearings in Hempstead on separate proposals to build single-family homes in Levittown and a supermarket in North Bellmore.

The town appeals board held a hearing Wednesday on North Shore Farms' petition for a special exception because its proposed 18,818-square-foot store on a long-vacant lot in North Bellmore would be double the allowed size for a building with access to a two-lane road.

The family-owned supermarket chain is looking to open its fifth location, at a building at Jerusalem Avenue and Pea Pond Road that housed a Rite Aid drugstore until 2002.

William F. Bonesso, a Uniondale attorney representing North Shore Farms, said at the 31/2-hour hearing that the supermarket would cause less or the same traffic as another business.

But Oceanside-based lawyer Jeff Toback, who represented 20 families opposed to the project, countered that a supermarket would create safety issues and increase traffic in a congested area. Nassau County Legis. Dave Denenberg raised the same concerns.

"I'm worried about their safety," Patti Kaplan said, referring to more than a dozen children who live on her block on nearby Roger Road. "We don't need another supermarket in our area."

But Tom Kohlman, chairman of the civic committee of the Forrest City Association in nearby Wantagh, said they support a supermarket because the property has been vacant for too long. "It's been an eyesore for 10 years," he said.

The appeals board also considered a petition from Josato Inc. of North Bellmore for variances to build four homes on separate parcels that are 5 feet short of the 60-foot width required under special zoning meant to preserve the area's history of detached single-family homes.

The 2.5-acre property, on Crocus Lane, on the site of the former Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, would be subdivided into two 42,380-square-foot plots and two 13,200-square-foot plots, said Josato's attorney William S. Cohn of Uniondale. The proposal also includes a private road leading to four homes to be constructed on the site, Cohn said.

Ilene Lubin, who has lived in Levittown since 1978, said she would prefer two homes. "I am opposed to the four houses because of the substandard road," she said.

Other opponents, including members of the Levittown Property Owners Association, argued that approval could set a precedent for "spot" zoning.

But Joseph Berman, who has lived in Levittown since 1950, said that while he prefers two homes, he thinks "this proposal is the best proposal ever made . . . My opinion is they oppose it because there hasn't been anything behind their homes for more than 60 years."

Josato has been battling since 1984 to change the town's zoning laws so it could develop the site. The town board rejected a plan to build a 46-unit condominium complex last year.

The appeals board reserved decision on both petitions.

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