The Town of North Hempstead approved the first mixed-use development for an overlay district in Port Washington after neighbors complained in a three-hour hearing about the project's size.

Developers Laurie and Marty Scheinman plan a three-story mixed use building on the 0.56-acre vacant lot at 322-326 Main St. The plan includes 5,400 square feet of office space and 12 "market-rate" rental units.

Nancy Sinoway, whose store is nearby, said she is concerned the development will bring more traffic. "When this project is completed . . . what will our lower Main Street traffic be like then?" she asked.

The town board in 2012 created an overlay district for Port Washington, allowing mixed-use buildings on certain parts of Main Street, amid opposition from residents. This is the first project to be approved in that district.

Many in attendance said the project would add traffic and lower property values of nearby homes. But others said the project will add to the rentals in town.

"We have an empty space, essentially a hole in that area of Port Washington," Craig Johnson, a former state senator, told the board.

Jennifer Rimmer, of the advocacy group Residents for A More Beautiful Port Washington, said the proposed development "contributes to the walkability of our community by further attracting additional customers to the shops, restaurants, parks and attractions."

But area resident Matthew Straus said the project "negatively impacts the residents . . . it sets a very poor precedent for future development on the Port Washington peninsula. It decreases setbacks and density protection."

Resident Rachel Amalfitano said what goes on the site should "be in the size and shape that fits in the property while conforming to the existing rules."

She said if the town must issue variances, residents of nearby Covert and Jackson streets should receive "real estate tax credits to compensate us for the reductions in our market value and the impact to our homes."

The developer is also seeking four variances before the zoning board of appeals, said Planning Commissioner Michael Levine said. A condition imposed by the town requires the developer to perform tests to determine the soil's absorption capacity, given the area's high groundwater.

Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio of Port Washington said it is unlikely the town will see another development of this size in the district, since this property was larger than others. Potential projects that are feasible include creating new, more modern mixed-use buildings in place of older ones, she said.

"When we created the overlay district, we intended it to produce a long-term change," said De Giorgio.

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