Friday, August 31, 2007

It seemed like a good idea at the time

When a plan is not a plan

From the Three Village Times:

Trammell Crow seems determined to purchase the property the Courtesy Hotel is on so much so that the developer is willing to reduce the number of residential units in the complex it has planned for the site.

The West Hempstead Urban Renewal Plan zone. Key: Parcel A = Courtesy Hotel Property Parcel B = LIRR Right-of-Way Parcel C = Light Industrial Properties, Public/Commuter Parking Parcel D = Portions of Public/Commercial Parking Parcel E = Portions of Public/Commercial Parking

The saga that is the Courtesy Hotel in West Hempstead has elicited passion from the West Hempstead Civic Association, which, for years, has been lobbying the town to close the hotel, which has been considered a scourge on the community. Now, civic leaders see an end in site as real estate developer Trammell Crow is willing to purchase the property with the purpose of erecting a residential apartment complex on the 2.7-acre site, known in the proposed Town of Hempstead Urban Renewal Plan for the area as Parcel A.

Rosalie Norton, president of the West Hempstead Civic Association, appeared at a continuation of the Town of Hempstead Planning Board on last Thursday concerning the 10-acre piece of property that is included in the town's urban renewal plan. Norton expressed concerns over the urban renewal plan and believes it should have been discussed more thoroughly with the community.

The town's urban renewal plan for the 10 acres of West Hempstead that includes the Courtesy Hotel property, which is known as Parcel A.

The urban renewal plan seeks to develop the area with residential (multiple-family and townhouses), neighborhood retail, parking and open spaces that are appropriate for a location adjacent to a commuter railroad station.

Norton, who said (s)he is a community advocate, not activist, believes that the town's urban renewal plan for the area doesn't necessarily include a plan.

The Urban Renewal Plan for the West Hempstead Urban Renewal Area is an eight-page document that identifies five parcels of land within the 10-acre area.
Parcel A - Southside of Hempstead Avenue - the Courtesy Hotel Property - 2.73 acres.
Parcel B - West of Parcel A - LIRR right-of-way - 0.96 acres.
Parcel C - East of Parcel A - Portion of light industrial properties along the west side of Hempstead Gardens Drive.
Parcel D - North side of Hempstead Avenue between Westminster Road and Broad Street - Portions of the parking areas north of Hempstead Avenue.
Parcel E - North of Hempstead Avenue, between Broad Street and Hempstead Gardens Drive -

Portions of the parking areas north of Hempstead Avenue.

According to the urban renewal plan, the proposed action involves redevelopment of these sites to contain a mix of uses such as residential homes, neighborhood retail, parking and open spaces.
The plan calls for multiple-family residential for Parcel A and townhouses for portions of Parcels D and E; ground-floor, neighborhood retail is proposed for Parcels D and E; public parking is proposed for Parcel C and Parcel B is proposed to be open space.

For civic leaders and community members, the number one priority is closing the Courtesy Hotel. This is a priority shared by town officials. The environmental assessment report on the urban renewal plan as submitted by the Town of Hempstead Town Board states, "Removal of the existing Courtesy Hotel, a major blighting factor in the area, is considered to be a significant beneficial impact of the Urban Renewal Plan."

There is some disagreement about whether the Urban Renewal Plan is the best way to go about closing the Courtesty Hotel. One problem that exists with the Urban Renewal Plan is the possibility of having to take property identified in the plan through eminent domain. According to the plan, "To achieve the development envisioned in this plan, a program of acquisition and demolition will be undertaken by the Town of Hempstead Department of Planning and Economic Development which will dispose of such properties for redevelopment in accordance with the plan."

Some community members would prefer that the Courtesy be closed through the purchase of the property by Trammell Crow Residential, which would build a 220-unit apartment complex on the 2.7-acre site with a density of 80 units per acre.

This is the direction the West Hempstead Civic Association would prefer. However, the environmental assessment report on the urban renewal plan points out that changing the zoning to allow for 80 units per acre "would have to be carefully reviewed for potential townwide repercussions."

The town seems willing to allow 45 units per acre, which is the highest density permitted in any zoning district in the town. However, it doesn't seem Trammell Crow is willing to adhere to this determination.

At last week's planning board hearing, attorney Al D'Agostino, who represents Trammell Crow, said his client has agreed to reduce the proposal from 220 units per acre to 176 units, although D'Agostino did not know whether the five-story height of the original proposal would be reduced. However, that proposal still calls for 65 units per acre, which is more than the 45 is willing to allow.

In addition to Trammell Crow, there is also a proposal by Jim Rockefeller of Rockefeller Development to purchase Parcel C and build a 50-unit senior citizen housing complex on the property.

With two developers lined up to develop the Courtesy Hotel and the area east of it, some may wonder whether this may be a better way to go. Until then, the saga that is the Courtesy Hotel keeps on going.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Letters from West Hempstead

Civic Association Urges Letter Writing Campaign

From Rosalie Norton, President, West Hempstead Civic Association:


The Nassau County Planning Commission specifically requested that WH residents write letters regarding the Town's Urban Renewal Plan.

· If the TOH's Plan goes through with 45 units per acre, Trammell Crow Residential will not be able to purchase the property, we lose big tax revenue, and take a major step backwards in getting the Courtesy closed!!!!

· Tell Nassau County that you support higher density and oppose the TOH’s Urban Renewal Plan for West Hempstead.

· Send letters to: Nassau County Planning Commission
400 County Seat Drive
Mineola, New York 11501
Attention: Jeffrey Greenfield, Chairman
Michael A. Bellissimo, First Vice Chairman
Neal Lewis, Second Vice Chairman

· Please send a copy to the WHCA, PO Box 425, West Hempstead, NY 11552

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Trammell Crow has REDUCED the number of apartments to 176 which is 65 units per acre.

With fewer units and parking spaces the building size will most likely be reduced.

Ideas You Might Include In Your Letter --

1.You want the Town to negotiate with TCR to enable the private sale to take place.

2. You are opposed to the Town's Urban Renewal Plan for WH because the density being proposed for Parcel A - the Courtesy Hotel site is too low.

How has the Town determined that 45 units per acre will be economically feasible, without sacrificing quality?

The TOH should make public the value they have placed on each of the parcels to enable the public and the Nassau County Planning Board to judge the merits of the Urban Renewal Plan
Additionally the proposal is short on specifics and relies on vague, undefined concepts.

3. You oppose single family, two family or townhouses on this commercial stretch of Hempstead Avenue, an inappropriate location for this type of housing. Our community rejected this area for a new library believing it to be unsuitable for children.

4. You oppose the property being acquired through eminent domain because:
· There is a private sale pending to purchase the Courtesy site
· You believe the sale to Trammell Crow Residential would result in the best use of the property with the greatest benefits to the community.
· It will take years to rid our community of the Courtesy Hotel this way.
· Under eminent domain the Town would take title to the property and the owner stops paying taxes. Who would pay the school taxes? And when?

5.The Nassau County Planning Board should recommend to the Town that the development producing the most positive economic benefits for West Hempstead should be the actionable choice. In the TOH’s own report they determined that greater density would yield maximum benefits.

6. You oppose the Urban Renewal Plan because it violates the TOH’s existing parking requirements for National Wholesale Liquidators (NWL) and would result in a substantial reduction in the taxes NWL pays; and, the plan does not provide the greatest tax benefits to our community.

7. We are opposed to a parking garage in the area.

8. We support beautification and landscaping of the parking fields north of Hempstead Ave.

9. The Urban Renewal Plan does not address the problem of empty stores on Hempstead Turnpike and Hempstead Avenue, yet it would ask developers to add additional retail stores.

How could additional retail stores create economic revitalization if the existing retail businesses are having difficulties?

Monday, August 27, 2007

From The Three Village Times:

Visions of Sugarplums

The Town of Hempstead envisions the redevelopment of the Courtesy and its surrounding blight far differently than most West Hempsteaders. Indeed, the town, through its Department of Economic Development and Zoning Board cum Planning Board, looks to remove blight in our community as one would take aim with an elephant gun to shoot a single, lowly mouse (Not that this wouldn't have been the way to go, with prudent planning, timely deployment, and proper implementation.)

As things now stand (aside from quite still), the town offers grand ideas, absolutely no workable plan, and the elephant gun isn't even loaded.

Nassau County, similarly taking aim, the big gun in the hands of the County Planning Commission, envisions a greenbelt on Broad Street, a two-story parking garage, and nominal building setbacks - not exactly what West Hempstead residents had in mind.

Truth be told, had the Courtesy been closed 10 years ago, or even three years ago as promised by Town Supervisor Kate Murray, the West Hempstead community might well have been amenable to alternative plans for the redevelopment, not only of the Courtesy site, but of the entire 10-acre parcel designated by the town as "blighted."

Behind the eight ball, with the Courtesy - the hottest crime spot in the 5th Precinct - still open for business, residents no longer have the breathing room, or the patience, to embrace Ms. Murray's broader "vision." That vision, best of intentions aside, has not played out in the unincorporated areas of the township beyond the occasional brick paver and Victorian-style street lamp - the façade that is passed off as "downtown" improvement being just that, a façade.
Yes, redevelop not only the Courtesy venue, but also the surrounding parcels, home to the likes of a waste transfer station and the seemingly abandoned MTA right-of-way. But first and foremost, close and demolish the Courtesy Hotel, the epicenter of blight at our hamlet's eastern gateway.

In rebuilding community, and revitalizing its infrastructure, one has to start somewhere, sometime. The time to start the wrecking ball swinging is now, and the place to start is at the front door to the Courtesy Hotel.

West Hempsteaders implore the County Planning Commission and the Town Zoning Board to act in our community's best interest and with all deliberate speed. And to Kate Murray we say, "Madam Supervisor, tear down that hotel!"

Seth D. Bykofsky
- - -
Mr. Bykofsky, a community advocate of longstanding, has been in the forefront of the fight to close the Courtesy Hotel and to revitalize the eastern gateway to West Hempstead since 1995. He is a past president of the West Hempstead Civic Association and a founder of The Community Alliance.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Town Zoning Board Continues Public Hearing On August 23

Still Clueless At Hempstead Town Hall

From the Malverne-West Hempstead Herald:

We shall meet again
By Matthew McGevna

After weeks of confusion surrounding the Town of Hempstead¹s draft urban renewal plan, the Hempstead Board of Zoning Appeals is now apparently prepared to fulfill its alternate role as a planning commission, and vote to accept or reject the plan.

When West Hempstead residents gathered at a meeting of the BZA on July 11, they expected the board to vote on the urban renewal plan. Residents were under the impression that the BZA¹s approval, or rejection, of the document was a key component in the town¹s most recent attempt to seize ownership of 10.5 acres of land in West Hempstead and secure it for private development. Residents came to the meeting to express their views about the plan, their concerns and, for most, their desire to see the parcel of land where the Courtesy Hotel now stands developed by Trammel Crow Residential. Trammell Crow is currently in contract with the owner of the Courtesy, and has been waiting to be granted rezoning for the property.

But the draft urban renewal plan, a brainchild of the town's Department of Planning and Economic Development and the independent consulting firm Saccardi & Schiff, does not support the vision of Trammell Crow Residential, and if approved, it could instead disqualify the company from building what it wants. So residents filed into the July 11 meeting hoping to convince the BZA to reject the town's plan.

As the meeting progressed, however, it became clear to those in attendance that the BZA had no intention of approving or rejecting the plan, and board members continued to reiterate to residents that the board¹s only role was to determine whether or not the 10-acre area was blighted, and that ³something should be done about it.

Listeners began whispering to one another. Hadn't there already been a blight study approved by the town last May that made that determination? Attorneys for the hotel and the nearby National Wholesale Liquidators, whose property the plan includes, read a resolution drafted by the town board that charged the BZA to accept, reject or make recommendations to the plan.

Then, after numerous statements from residents, the matter was tabled for a later meeting, and the audience dispersed in confusion.

Now, apparently, the BZA is prepared to act as a planning board. A date has been set ‹ Aug. 23 at 1 p.m. ‹ to "clarify the jurisdiction" of the board, and to "take further testimony," according to a release.

The release states that after the July meeting, board members received a memo from the Department of Planning and Economic Development claiming that "there may have been some confusion as to the public's perception of the [Board of Zoning Appeals] jurisdiction and scope of review."

"I requested that they re-open the hearing just to clarify exactly what their scope of review is," Charles Theofan, commissioner of the DPED, said of the BZA. "It's not a new hearing, it's re-opening the old hearing. All the old testimony that's been taken is still on the record."

Theofan said he could not predict what the zoning board would do, but added that its members are expected to more fully understand the town board's resolution and clarify to the public what the BZA's role is.

West Hempstead Civic Association President Rosalie Norton said the confusion was not the public's. "The resolution that was passed by the town board said the [BZA] was supposed to review the urban renewal plan and make recommendations," Norton said. "We weren't confused, we were offering our suggestions for them to use in their recommendations."

The Nassau County Planning Board, meanwhile, released a report with its comments and recommendations regarding the urban renewal plan. Theofan said that while the town board is under no obligation to follow the county's recommendations, it would consider all of the comments.

"The Nassau Planning Commission was phenomenal," said Norton, who attended the Aug. 9 hearing that introduced the county's comments. "At the session they said, 'Get together with the community.' They understood the difficulty the community was having."

The West Hempstead Civic Association and other civic groups are opposed to the urban renewal plan because, among other things, it recommends only 45 units of residential housing per acre, far fewer than the 80 units per acre that Trammel Crow is planning for the land. Norton suggested that the town board get together with all the principal players and hammer out a deal. "We understand you don't want 80 [units]," she said in an interview, as if addressing the board, "but we don't want 45, so let's negotiate for something closer to 80, and I don't mean 79."

The Aug. 23 BZA meeting will take place in Town Hall's Bennett Pavilion.

Comments about this story? or (516) 569-4000 ext. 205.

©Herald Community 2007

"When will Fodor or Frommer give West Hempstead's short-stay Courtesy Hotel the negative stars it deserves? ... "

Excerpts from Newsday Columnist Ellis Henican's post of August 12. . .

...ASKED AND UNANSWERED: If no one looted the bingo pot at Coram's Suffolk Independent Living Organization, where did all the money go? The prize payouts aren't THAT huge ... Shouldn't Lisa Skowron Katz get the "Most Understanding Wife Ever" Award? The Sound Beach mom said OK to a light, 6-month sentence for her soon-to-be-ex husband, Gary, who tried to hire a hit man to kill her ... Should Paul McCartney get "Understanding Husband" prize? He's been graciously hosting the spitting-mad Heather Mills (and daughter Beatrice) at his Fresh Pond Road pad in Amagansett ... Who - or what - is killing the birds of Argyle Lake? Babylon Village Mayor Ralph Scordino counts more than 20 dead ones so far ... And what about the fish in East Rockaway's Mill River? Experts are blaming oxygen depletion for that one ... If the waiter's not keeping the whole tip, shouldn't the diner be warned with the bill? Most customers just assume they're tipping the WAITER ... Is super-sized "mansion-ization" the official blight of the East End's gilded age? Some folks in "The Lanes" sure think so ... When will Fodor or Frommer give West Hempstead's short-stay Courtesy Hotel the negative stars it deserves? ... In a month, the Nassau and Suffolk district attorneys had no trouble pinching 219 illegal contractors? You think maybe, just maybe, there's something wrong with this licensing approach? ... Should 1-800-FLOWERS have to pay damages to cheating husband Leroy Greer, who sent roses to his girlfriend? The dial-in florist faxed the receipt - and the love note - to Leroy's wife ... Didn't the Nassau County Planning Commission forget something on the way to a new urban renewal plan for West Hempstead? Oh, right, the people ... After all the success he's had with his "Garage Sale America" book, does Bruce Littlefield ever just want to shop at Ikea? ... After all the Murdoch outrage at The Wall Street Journal, how many reporters and editors have resigned in protest? Not too many, huh? ... Now that Caroline Giuliani's a Facebook pal of Obama's, which Democratic kid is secretly rooting Republican? Show of hands, please...

Friday, August 17, 2007

"The Town has. . .dropped the ball" -- DUH!

From The Three Village Times:

All Eyes on the Courtesy
For West Hempstead Residents, Hotel Is Hot Issue
By Joe Rizza

As the campaigns heat up before Election Day in November, it's a safe bet that residents of West Hempstead will keep an eye on the Courtesy Hotel. Whether or not the hotel is closed or remains open could be seen by some as a testament to whether their local elected officials can get things done.

Former Town of Hempstead Councilman Scott Banks, who drafted the nuisance law in an effort to close the Courtesy Hotel in 2000, although he said the law that was eventually passed did not have enough teeth, lives in close proximity to the hotel. "Ultimately, I think the town has essentially dropped the ball on the issue," he said.

Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray wants to redevelop not only the Courtesy Hotel property but the area around the hotel through an urban renewal plan, which calls for a multiple-family, mixed residential and commercial parcel immediately adjacent to the railroad station, a row of townhouses along Hempstead Avenue, a parcel dedicated as open space and community railroad parking.

Following a press conference on a visionary process for Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont, Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said what the town and the county are trying to achieve in Elmont is similar to what the town is trying to achieve in West Hempstead with the area around the hotel. "What we're saying is let's look at the community as a whole. Instead of just developing the Courtesy Hotel, 2.7 acres, let's do 10 acres. If you just develop the Courtesy, the effect is just much more diminished. It's very important to me to do these 10 acres," she said.

Some residents of West Hempstead who have been lobbying the town to close the hotel prefer that the town rezone the hotel property to allow for a residential complex of 80 units per acre to allow for the purchase of the hotel property by Trammell Crow Residential, which would erect a 220-unit apartment complex on the site. However, the town board seems only likely to permit a maximum of 45 units per acre.

Banks, who is running this November on the Democratic ticket against incumbent councilman Ed Ambrosino, is among those who believe the sale of the hotel to Trammell Crow represents the best chance to close the hotel. "It does create a situation where, if this sale goes through, it would get rid of the main blight on our community. I think there's where we need to go at this point in time," he said. "Something has to get done about this. It's the people in the community who really should have the voice here. We're forgetting that the residents who have to deal with this location each and every day, they're the ones who should say what's right for our community and not someone in town hall and not some planning commission."

The town is seeking to redevelop the land through an urban renewal plan that would allow for 45 units per acre for residential developments as opposed to the 80 units per acre Trammell Crow is seeking in order to buy the hotel. Town officials believe allowing 80 units per acre would set a precedent through the entire town that would allow for developments that are too dense.
Through the urban renewal process, the town will be considering proposals from Trammell Crow, Breslin Realty, the Sheldrake Organization and the Alvin Benjamin company for plans to redevelop the 10 acres of property.

"Right now, we have a horrible hotel and we have an empty parking lot. Quite frankly, we can only go up. We can only improve those 10 acres. I think at the end of the day, people are going to be very happy. That's my sincerest desire with regard to that urban renewal plan and I have every confidence that the community, when they see beautiful new residential and some great commercial areas, is going to say this is what we always wanted. This is what we always envisioned," Murray said.

Comments made by Ambrosino, a fellow Republican, suggest that he may not feel that the urban renewal plan is the fastest way to close the Courtesy. Ambrosino said he empathizes with the residents of the community and supports whatever is going to close the hotel the quickest.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Town Dumb, County Dumber

Nassau County Planning Commission Stands Reason, And Plans For Redevelopment, On Head

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse...

The County of Nassau, via its Planning Commission (where's Kat D'Amato when you need her?), has reviewed the Town of Hempstead's Urban Renewal Plan (for the little it was worth), critiqued same, and, with head up proverbial posteria, put forth a "plan" (if you could call it that) of its own.

One has to wonder whether this isn’t yet another instance of the blind (County) leading the blind (Town).

We have yet to “digest” the entire document, let alone to plot out the commission’s findings, juxtaposed against those of the Town, but certain features jump out as leaping from the ridiculous to the totally absurd:

1. Creation of a “greenbelt,” with “Broad Street as an aesthetically pleasing and safe connection to the LIRR West Hempstead Station. . .”

Broad Street “aesthetically pleasing?” Maybe we can plant trees atop the National Wholesale Liquidators trailers?

How about a shelter for the homeless amidst the “aesthetically pleasing” litter as strewn daily along the Hempstead Turnpike side of NWL?

Who’s walking from Hempstead Turnpike at its intersection with Broad Street to warrant such streetscaping?

And why Broad Street, of all locales? How about Westminster between the Turnpike and the Avenue?

2. The construction of a “two-story commuter parking deck.”

Now that would be lovely!

3. 10 foot setbacks are “excessive.”

And we thought they weren’t enough.

We suppose the best reading was the Commission’s recommendation that “Broad Street be the site of expansive streetscape improvements including, but mot limited to, tree plantings, pedestrian amenities, and crosswalk pavers.”


Somebody please wake us up. This nightmare grows more horrific by the hour!

We say, back to the drawing board for everyone, and pray for the closure of the Courtesy by the year 2025. Or, somebody dust off the Trammell-Crow plan, and get serious about the redevelopment of this gateway to West Hempstead in our lifetime.

Bring on the bulldozers!

P.S. Has the Town of Hempstead Board of Zoning Appeals decided whether we in West Hempstead are “blighted” yet? And whose blight is it, anyway?
- - -
Rosalie Norton, President of the West Hempstead Civic Association, spoke before the Nassau Planning Commission on August 9th, decrying the Town's Urban Renewal Plan, and asking the Planning Commission to take yet another look.

Among the proposals suggested by Ms. Norton were the rejection of the following:

1. parking garage;

2. single, two family homes, and town houses except on Parcel C and only for seniors;

3. Transit Oriented Development (TOD) zoning with a 1/4 mile radius.

At the same time, Ms. Norton asked for the NC Planning Commission to support:

1. density closer to 80 rather than 45 units for Courtesy property;

2. TOD density only in a tightly confined area in parcels A & C, establishing a distance from any residential homes;

3. 5 story building with covered structured parking under the building with no surface parking allowed for residents;

4. At least 15 foot minimum set backs for apartments, and more for townhouses;

5. Repaving and beautification of parking fields and sidewalks on north side of Hempstead Avenue;

6. Facade improvements for existing buildings. on Hempstead Turnpike and Hempstead Avenue;

7. No further retail businesses being built until a study is done to determine why existing businesses are failing, and addressing how to attract businesses to the area.

Ms. Norton delivered to the Planning Commission copies of the more than 2100 letters and petitions, as previously delivered to Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray.

The Civic Association has asked that the Town work to enable the private sale to eliminate "50% of the blight," and allow the sector to do what it does best when it works in cooperation with the community and the Town.

The Commissioners set a date of September 20 for a continued hearing, and has asked the Town of Hempstead to work with the community to develop a plan which reflects the concerns and wishes of the community.

Yeah, right!

Meanwhile, the Courtesy Hotel remains open. The Blight fluorishes in our front yard. And both Town and County whistle in the wind while sticking out their tongues to the West Hempstead community.
- - -
From the pages of Newsday:

Planning commission postpones decision on West Hempstead plan

Acknowledging residents' complaints that a West Hempstead urban renewal plan and rezoning proposal was crafted without sufficient community input, the Nassau County Planning Commission Thursday postponed a decision on the proposals for 30 days.

The nine-member commission -- which has the final say on zoning actions by local governments -- won't decide on the controversial proposals until Sept. 20 so it can review further public comment. It also urged Hempstead officials to communicate further with residents about their concerns.

Charles Theofan, the commissioner of Hempstead's Department of Planning and Economic Development, said that although "there has been a tremendous amount of dialogue so far, I hear what they are saying and the dialogue will continue."

The more than 50 residents who showed up at the midmorning Planning Commission meeting at the county office in Mineola burst into loud applause after Rosalie Norton, president of the West Hempstead Civic Association, gave her presentation.

"The community has spoken, but they are not taking any of the things we think are important and incorporating them into their plan," Norton said after the meeting.

She delivered a 2,100-signature petition to the commission supporting redevelopment plans by Trammell Crow Residential.

The proposal for the Urban Renewal Plan, a 10-acre site in West Hempstead, consists of the Long Island Rail Road station and five surrounding properties, including the controversial Courtesy Hotel.

Civic leaders have long campaigned to close down the hotel, which has been in operation since the mid-1960s and specializes in short stays and hourly rates. It attracts transients and has been the site of numerous crimes, police and civics say.

Trammell Crow is in contract to purchase the hotel and has floated a proposal to build a five-story, 220-unit rental apartment complex with underground parking, a landscaped courtyard and a swimming pool. Trammell Crow's proposal calls for zoning of 80 units per acre.

Theofan said the highest density the town permits is 30 units per acre."Under the concept of smart growth, we are taking a leap forward in that the urban renewal project has a train station in it and we are looking to zone the area 45 units per acre," Theofan said. "Above that, the feeling in the town is that anything more would set a bad precedent."

The civic association is supporting the Trammell Crow proposal, Theofan contends, "because they see it as the quickest means to an end -- the final demise of the Courtesy Hotel."

But Norton said the town has not recognized the need within the community and on Long Island for housing the younger generation can afford.

"We are supporting the plan to get rid of the Courtesy, not because the property is blighted but because it's a great plan," she said. "We want what's best for our community."

Copyright © 2007, Newsday Inc.