Neighbors Deserve to Know: Murray, Cullin & Hudes Propose Stronger Public Notice Requirements for Businesses Seeking Construction & Use Variances

One day before a Hempstead Board of Appeals hearing concerning a planned restaurant and cabaret at 3500 Sunrise Highway in Wantagh, Town Supervisor Kate Murray, Councilwoman Angie Cullin and Councilman Gary Hudes announced that they have proposed a town law that would provide stronger public notice requirements for businesses (all commercial properties) that seek construction and use variances. The officials called for a public hearing on the proposal at the May 17th Town Board meeting, and that hearing will be held on June 21st. The legislation calls for large, prominently displayed signage to be displayed at the subject property to notify neighbors of Board of Appeals hearing dates and the variances being sought by the property owner. The legislation would also expand the "notification radius" for commercial property owners who seek variances, thereby increasing the number of residents who would receive written notice of public hearings and details on the nature of Board of Appeals cases.

"Neighbors deserve to know about the plans that nearby commercial businesses have with regard to changes in use and physical alterations to buildings, as they can have a serious impact on local quality of life," stated Murray. "We are proposing this legislation so that more homeowners will have an opportunity to voice their opinions on commercial development in their communities."

The proposed law would amend the town's Building Zone Ordinance and would be the subject of a public hearing at an upcoming Town Board meeting. The legislation would expand the "notification radius" from 100 feet to 300 feet, requiring non-residential property owners with applications before the Board of Appeals to mail written notice of the hearing to all property owners within 300 feet of the subject property. The notice, detailing the variance or relief sought, would have to be mailed at least 21 days before the hearing and no more than 28 days prior to the hearing date.

Additionally, the proposal would require commercial property owners to prominently display a 4 foot by 6 foot sign, detailing the Board of Appeals hearing date and the subject of the hearing. The legislation calls for the sign to be bright orange or yellow and stipulates the manner in which it must be displayed. As with the written notice, the sign must be posted at least 21 days prior and no more than 28 days before the Board of Appeals hearing date. The sign must remain posted through the date of the hearing.

The Board of Appeals is a separate and independent governmental body from the Hempstead Town Board, on which Supervisor Murray, Councilwoman Cullin and Councilman Hudes serve. The members of the Town Board are prohibited from participating in Board of Appeals deliberations and decisions. Town Board members, however, do reserve the same rights as all other town residents to express opinions and views at Board of Appeals hearings.

"This law will expand the number of people who will have information on planned commercial property changes that could impact the character of local neighborhoods," stated Cullin. "Information is power, and this proposal gives more power to area homeowners," added Hudes.

"Giving residents a greater voice in the governmental process is an important priority," concluded Murray. "This new law will address that priority and our communities will be enhanced as a result."