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North Hempstead weighs lower age limit, smaller lot size for senior housing

The Town of North Hempstead is considering reducing requirements for the age and size of certain senior housing complexes -- to generate housing options for seniors.

The age requirement would drop to 55 from 62 for projects that rely on certain federal housing tax credits. The proposed law introduced Tuesday during a public hearing at the town board meeting would also mandate that projects be built on properties no smaller than 2 acres. The current requirement is 5 acres.

"There is a real sense of a need for more affordable senior housing in North Hempstead," Judi Bosworth, the town supervisor, said during an interview Thursday. "The town zoning requirement is out of date, and our planning department would create a sensible development, while allowing for enough green space."

The board postponed the hearing to a future town board meeting after town attorney Elizabeth Botwin said the proposed law needed "a few tweaks."

Michael Levine, the town's planning commissioner, said at Tuesday's meeting that the town's housing authority requested the change as developments look to move into sites in Manhasset and New Cassel, in the senior housing district which was created in 1998, "to provide adequate space" for large senior housing projects and their amenities.

"Fast forward to 2014, the opportunity to find an appropriate five-acre site -- there are virtually none," Levine said.

The proposed development in New Cassel is for 68 rental units on 2 acres, at the former Grand Street School. The school was demolished in the summer after being contaminated with pollutants and abandoned for decades.

For the site in Manhasset, 72 rental units are proposed on a vacant 3-acre site between two housing authority complexes on Community Drive, which officials said was used as a natural gas storage facility and later as an illegal dumping ground.

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