Redfern Avenue is in the transit-oriented development zone in Inwood.

Redfern Avenue is in the transit-oriented development zone in Inwood. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Hempstead Town Board last week again extended moratoriums on building new apartments and homes in the transit-oriented development zones and related districts in Inwood and North Lawrence. 

The town board on March 12 approved a 90-day extension until June 18, which Town Attorney John Maccarone said would allow an outside consultant to review the zoning codes and environmental review process. The board initially approved six-month moratoriums in September 2022 on two of the zoning designations that would have allowed more than 1,000 new apartments to be built in the zones. The town extended those moratoriums by one year in March 2023 and added a third zoning designation to the moratoriums. 

The zoning designations consist of three parts intended to create walkable communities near LIRR train stations. 

Before the board approved the latest extension by a 6-0 vote without deliberation, Town Supervisor Donald Clavin Jr. said the town would hold another hearing based on the findings of Melville-based consultant Nelson & Pope Engineering, Architecture and Land Surveying PLLC on June 21.

Timeline of zoning districts, moratoriums

2019: Hempstead Town Board created three new zoning designations to spur the development of walkable communities in Inwood and North Inwood near the LIRR stations.

2022: The town board imposed moratoriums on building using two the new zoning codes. 

2023: The town board extended moratoriums for one year and added the third.

2024: The town board extended the moratoriums for 90 days.

The hearing drew 16 speakers, including 10 who identified themselves as construction union members or were from out of town who spoke against the extensions. They said that allowing development under the zoning codes will provide needed affordable housing and boost the local economy.

Five speakers from the villages of Lawrence and Woodmere spoke in favor of the moratoriums, citing fears of traffic congestion and potential negative impacts on infrastructure.

Brian Kearney Jr., president of Steamfitters Union local 638, which represents workers in New York City and Long Island, spoke against the moratoriums.

"Residential development is lacking in New York, all over the state and it's important to build … affordable residences, especially close to mass transit," Kearney said. "The economy thrives when construction jobs and high-paying jobs fuel the economy."

Paris C. Popack, deputy mayor of the Village of Lawrence, spoke in favor of the moratoriums. 

“Development is not bad but in the right areas,” Popack told the board. “Inwood, North Lawrence and Rockaway Turnpike are not the right areas for multiple-family developments. We simply don't have the infrastructure to support transit-oriented development.”

The town board under former Supervisor Laura Gillen created three new zoning designations in 2019 to allow multifamily housing development in areas north and northwest of the Inwood and Lawrence Long Island Rail Road stations. 

The Hempstead Town Board in 2022 approved the moratoriums to prevent developments that “could have significant negative impacts on, among other things, community character and quality of life, public infrastructure, police, fire and other emergency services, traffic, and special districts, and therefore represent a threat to public health, safety and welfare,” according to town documents.

One of the three zoning designations is the transit-oriented development district, which designated five sub-districts each in Inwood and in North Lawrence near the LIRR stations. 

Another is the neighborhood business overlay district that would allow for housing to be built above ground-floor businesses on parts of Lawrence Avenue in North Lawrence and parts of Doughty and Lord avenues in Inwood. 

The third would allow rowhouses and townhouses to be built in certain areas in of Lawrence and North Inwood. 

North Lawrence is generally a portion of unincorporated Hempstead adjacent to the villages of Lawrence and Cedarhurst, east of Inwood.

The areas in Inwood and North Inwood subject to the zoning are near or adjacent to the villages of Lawrence and Cedarhurst, and are a study in contrasts.

The Inwood census tract, which includes North Inwood, is diverse with 46.3% of the population Hispanic or Latino, 29.2% non-Hispanic white and 16% Black, according to census data.

The village of Lawrence is 96.3% non-Hispanic white and Cedarhurst is 79.2% non-Hispanic white, according to census data. 


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