The Hempstead Village Planning Board approved two five-floor apartment buildings to be constructed in the first phase of the $2.5 billion downtown redevelopment project.
The board voted 3-2 Monday for Plainview-based Renaissance Downtowns to build the 336-unit apartments at Washington and Front streets. The site now is used for two parking lots across from Hempstead Town Hall.
Planning board members Bert Patterson and Kennetha Pettus voted against approving the project, but didn't comment during the meeting.
Public comments were not allowed because public hearings were not required under the overlay plan approved with Renaissance as master developer, planning board chairman Leroy Brown said.
A public hearing is only required if there is an environmental impact, a special permit or a subdivision, Village Attorney Debra Urbano-DiSalvo said Tuesday.
Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby submitted a letter to the board opposing the plan because of concerns about density and crime.
"What this project represents is a short-term, shortsighted approach that seems to be driven by politics and profit, not proper process and people, as it should," Goosby wrote.
Renaissance CEO Don Monti said in an email last night that the plan "was in complete compliance with the code and will serve as a catalyst for future responsible economic development and job creation in the Village of Hempstead and Long Island as a whole."
Brown said the board was reviewing whether the plan met the specifications of village zoning code.
The plan was reviewed by the village nine times and by the Downtown Advisory Board twice, with the advisory board approving it unanimously, Brown said.
A condition of the planning board approval required Renaissance to provide maintenance and security for the buildings. And 640 feet of new sewer line must be installed parallel on Washington Street before construction can begin.
"Renaissance will pay for it [the sewer line] if it is not paid for by grants from New York State," Renaissance vice president Sean McLean told the board.
The project includes 1,117 parking spaces, McLean said, adding that a three-level parking garage would be upgraded with lights. Color-coded parking areas for permit holders will include 336 spaces marked for residents.