Members of the community packed into the North Bellmore Library Monday to voice concerns about the impending arrival of North Shore Farms, which is scheduled to appear before the Hempstead Town Board of Zoning Appeals Wednesday afternoon.
The building, which is located at the intersection of Pea Pond Road and Jerusalem Avenue, housed Rite Aid until 2002, but Rite Aid maintained the lease until 2011. While many clients have explored the property, including Western Beef, this is the first time a tenant has gotten this far in the process.
“The reason why we are going in front of the Zoning Board is because we are seeking to introduce a supermarket larger than 9,300 square feet, and that is the code threshold,” William F. Bonesso, an attorney that represented North Shore Farms said.
He added that North Shore Farms will only do minimal work on the exterior of the building, which includes eliminating the area that was used for a drive thru for Rite Aid. That will be replaced by two additional parking spaces, increasing the total number to 86. Another concern was deliveries, and Bonesso said that none will be taking place before 6 a.m. or after 10 p.m.
Bonesso also said that residents don’t need to worry about garbage being a problem, because trash is housed inside of North Shore Farms in a separate area, and it’s brought outside to a dumpster a short time before it is picked up.
Others were concerned amount the increase in traffic flow North Shore Farms would bring to the area.
“I think there’s a lot of concerns about the traffic congestion already in the area,” Rory Kaplan, who lives near the currently vacant building, said. “We already have Rite Aid and Dunkin Donuts. Trying to make a right turn onto Jerusalem off one of those side streets is a nightmare.”
Bonesso said that traffic studies were done, both on a weekday when school was in session and on a weekend, and he said the traffic expert deemed that North Shore Farms would be able to operate without issue.
“When the variance changed sometime ago, the reason for it was traffic and safety issues,” Patricia Kaplan said. “I don’t see that that’s really changed. If anything, the area’s become more populated.”
“Based on the criteria that exists, we feel that we can certainly meet the criteria in terms of parking and traffic and in terms of trip generation,” Bonesso said, adding that a convenience store or medical office in the spot would create far greater traffic.
Others also voiced concerns regarding the number of kids that are constantly in the area, whether it’s from the nearby Saw Mill Road Elementary School or the North Bellmore Little League complex. Also, approximately 100 new students have been added to Saw Mill due to the recent closure of Jacob Gunther Elementary School.
North Shore Farms was asked to postpone its hearing with the BZA, but he respectfully declined, adding that his clients would be more than willing to meet with the community again to discuss restrictions.
The Board of Zoning Appeals will discuss the property at 2 p.m. Wednesday and the meeting is open to the public and is located at 1 Washington St. in Hempstead. For more information, click here.
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