An area of urban blight on the north side of...

An area of urban blight on the north side of Hempstead Turnpike near the Elmont Road intersection. (Jan. 22, 2012) Credit: Newsday/Audrey C. Tiernan

Hempstead Town board members say they are ready to consider incorporating mixed-use development in the proposed rezoning plan for Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont after community leaders pushed for the change.

Town Supervisor Kate Murray and Councilmen Edward Ambrosino and James Darcy said Friday they would recommend to the entire seven-person board that the draft plan released last month be changed to include mixed-use development in some portions of the zone.

The proposal would rezone Hempstead Turnpike through downtown Elmont from the Queens border to Franklin Square in an effort to revitalize the area, they said.

"New zoning could transform a long-term vision into a reality for Elmont," Murray said in a statement. "It would pave the way for a sustainable, successful future for businesses and residents in this great community."

The plan incorporates four sub-districts in the Hempstead Turnpike-Elmont Zoning District. But many Elmont community advocates said they were surprised that the town's draft plan excluded mixed-use development, which would allow apartments over ground-level retail stores along some portions of the blighted corridor.

"Nothing will help a business more than having customers inside the doors, and having residential above businesses will have people right there," said local developer Muzzio Tallini, a member of the Elmont Chamber of Commerce, who plans to be at the town board public hearing Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. at the Nathan L.H. Bennett Pavilion adjacent to Hempstead Town Hall.

The town crafted the controversial proposal after more than three years of meetings with community members and planning consultants. Mixed-used development was one of the recommendations supported by the community in the 2008 vision plan.

"Mixed-use is important to have on Long Island to make affordable apartments for young people," said Sandra Smith, chair of the Elmont Coalition for Sustainable Development.

Mixed-use development also leads to pedestrian-friendly areas and safer streets, and improves commerce, said Eric Alexander, executive director of Vision Long Island, a nonprofit community planning group. Mixed-use makes properties more valuable and helps the local government collect more property taxes, said Alexander, who plans to speak at the hearing.

Other Elmont civic leaders said they believe incorporating housing above retail stores is crucial to help fill empty stores, redevelop blocks of rundown real estate and attract young workers.

"Young people are leaving, businesses are leaving and developers are leaving," said Pat Nicolosi, president of the Elmont East End Civic Association and co-chair of the Elmont Coalition for Sustainable Development. "It is just a fact of life in Nassau County . . . Mixed-use zoning is crucial to keep young people here on Long Island."

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