Town of North Hempstead’s March 23rd Public Scoping Session Overview

What is the scoping session process? 

On March 23, 2021, the Town of North Hempstead’s Board hosted a public scoping session for Southern Land Company’s proposed development in Port Washington, New York. This public scoping session was conducted as part of New York’s State Environmental Quality Review Act, which mandates that state and local government agencies consider environmental impacts as equally important to social and economic impacts. 

As part of that process, this session sought to identify the primary areas of concern to be studied, evaluated, and addressed in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that will be finalized in early 2022, as well as encourage continued communication between government agencies, Southern Land Company, and members of the Port Washington community.

The purpose of this session was to provide the public with an opportunity to participate in the identification of potential impacts to Port Washington, as well as eliminate irrelevant issues, discuss alternative options, and outline mitigation efforts and additional information needed. Based on this meeting, a draft EIS will be delivered in 4-6 months, followed by a public hearing to address the draft, and the delivery of a final EIS 3-4 months later.

A rendering of SLC’s proposed waterfront transformation

What are the main areas of concern from the Town of North Hempstead and how does SLC propose to address them?

In advance of the public scoping session, the Town of North Hempstead received 60+ comments from community members and identified several common concerns, which were echoed by the handful of community members who dialed-in to the public scoping session to share their first-hand perspectives. Amongst the callers and comments, there were four major areas of concern that are outlined below, in addition to Southern Land Company’s statements about our plans to address them in full.

Traffic Impact

Evaluating the impact of traffic on local communities is a primary concern of any Southern Land development. Several community members voiced concerns about increased congestion along local roads as a result of a new resident influx, primarily within the Beacon Hill neighborhood and its major cross streets.

What is Southern Land doing to help?

Comprehensive traffic impact studies will be conducted to address this concern by combining baseline data from 2018 and 2019 to compensate for the lower overall traffic of a 2020 mid-Covid evaluation. Methodologies have been developed with the Department of Transportation to conduct accurate and representative traffic surveys amidst the pandemic, so rest assured that data will include a carefully calculated correction factor not dissimilar to traditional “season adjustment factors” that will provide accurate traffic data with near-pinpoint accuracy.

Use of Underwater and Neighboring Land

Southern Land Company has defined boundaries for its development to create a lot comprising just over 7 acres in total, with part of the parcel being underwater.

Some community members were concerned about the underwater area being considered a developable area, as well as land within the harbor being “privately owned.” Similarly, there are misunderstood concerns that 5 acres of designated park land would be used for private development.

What is Southern Land doing to help?

The 4.48-acre underwater parcel is surveyed, owned, has title insurance, and has been a taxable lot for more than 100 years. Despite rumors, Southern Land’s proposal does not include any intent to reclaim, fill-in, or build on the existing pilings or develop the underwater area. Rather, it would undergo a significant environmental clean-up. Moreover, the existing dilapidated pier would be fully restored, beautified, and made publicly accessible and available.

The use of this neighboring park land (known as Lot 1035) wouldn’t be leased or owned but rather fully restored and beautified for the community’s full-use, including public on-site parking.

Overburdened Local Infrastructure

Several community members voiced concerns about potential impacts to energy, water, and waste treatment plants that are allegedly near capacity. To account for the new residents, they are wary of utility expansion and energy improvements that may be necessary, which could lead to impacts on the environmental condition and quality of life of nearby residents.

Separate from energy concerns, there were worries expressed about the local school district capacity and availability of freshwater within the community.

What is Southern Land doing to help?

Protecting the quality of life of current residents, as well as the environmental integrity of their settings, are at the forefront of every project Southern Land Company undertakes. But beyond supporting a wide breadth of local groups and departments via their binding Community Benefits Agreements, Southern Land is also conducting the below evaluations to proactively address and mitigate these areas of concern:

  • Port Washington School District impact evaluation
  • Solid Waste Management, Water District, Water Pollution Control, Waste Water Control impact analyses
  • Gas and Electric utility impact analyses
  • Public Recreations Resources evaluation
  • Fire Department and Police Department impact evaluations
  • Noise Analysis
  • Air Quality Analysis
  • Fiscal and Economic Conditions Impact to local tax jurisdictions
  • Energy Conservation Analysis
  • Parking Analysis for off-street parking on-site

Environmental Concerns

Several callers voiced their concerns about adverse environmental impacts, including stormwater runoff, the containment of pollutants and sediments, the management of discharge from construction, impact on the harbor, and accountability for the local bodies tasked with monitoring and verifying these concerns.

What is Southern Land doing to help?

The proposed lot is a commercially blighted site that has sat as an eye sore and environmental hazard for years. A major pillar of Southern Land’s proposal is the approximately $12,000,000 environmental remediation and cleanup we will fund and conduct in order to identify and remove any and all potential hazards on-land and underwater. In addition to that tremendous undertaking, Southern Land has also initiated the below efforts to address and mitigate any environmental impacts:

  • Soil and Topography. Erosion prevention and off-site sediment transport will be explored and surveyed. Additionally, the existing site conditions of underwater terrain will be surveyed for hazards that need to be safely remediate
  • Groundwater and Stormwater Impacts will be surveyed and evaluated
  • FEMA Zone Regulations will be outlined and preserved
  • Tidal Wetlands Environmental Impact and Ecological Resource surveyed and evaluated
  • Land-Use Owning, Community Character, and Environmental Changes surveyed and evaluated
  • Aesthetic and Cultural Evaluation of archaeologically sensitive areas 
Another rendering of SLC’s proposed waterfront transformation

Community Excitement

Despite the public scoping session not being the appropriate format for it, some community members couldn’t help but call in to voice their active support for the project and underline their perspectives that the obvious community benefits far outweigh the potential negatives.

Several expressed delight at the idea of a heavily-contaminated area being thoroughly cleaned up and a long-neglected local blight being beautified. The effect to the town’s tax base would be in all community members’ favors, and Southern Land Company’s investments in the sewer and water systems (among many other contributions), as well as the sizable fees and permits paid to the town, would only help financially stimulate and support the community.

Several callers were also quick to point out the favorable economic impact that the expansion of Hempstead Harbor and the creation of a new public space would incur. By creating a new destination location in Port Washington, an increase of commerce is sure to help continue bolster the town and its residents.