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Letter: Excessive Regulations Hindering Revitalization

Karen Heckler writes “Hicksville’s revitalization is nothing to fear.” Courage and confidence in free markets by the leaders in the Town of Oyster Bay are what is necessary for real positive growth and change. Too often a community in their interest for “attractive restaurants, retail shops and maybe even some cultural arts” decides to amend the zoning ordinances to such specifics, attempting to dictate the change desired. Excessive regulation and uncertainty of Government approvals are what drives away entrepreneurs, investment capital and wonderfully innovative new development.

Real positive change comes from freedom and less Government restrictions to use, density and architecture.  Sure, there is fear of risk in change.  But often if the change is a mistake, the mistake is later corrected and redeveloped into a success.

For example, in 1990 the Nassau Farmer’s Market was closed and a new shopping center was developed in its place with Waldbaum’s Supermarket and National Wholesale Liquidators. The shopping center became 100 percent leased but over the next decade began to fail. The reason was the positive change occurring nearby on Hempstead Turnpike.  Hempstead Turnpike was redeveloped with great retailers like Target and Stop & Shop.  Waldbuam’s Supermarket and National Wholesale Liquidators could not compete with such strong retailers as Target and Stop & Shop nearby at a superior location on Hempstead Turnpike.

So, what did the property owner of the Waldbaum’s Supermarket and National Wholesale Liquidators shopping center do? The shopping center, only 15 years old, was demolished and leased to Lowe’s Home Center with Applebee’s Restaurant. Some of the former tenants next to Waldbaum’s Supermarket moved to other nearby vacant strip centers and revitalized those vacant strip centers.

Downtown Hicksville is one of the most strategic locations on Long Island for urban development with a major commuter rail line and close proximity to the Long Island Expressway and the Northern State Parkway, as well as proximity to Jericho Turnpike and Old Country Road.  There are no other downtowns on Long Island with such beneficial transportation attributes for a real urban center.  Yet, zoning regulations restrict density and flexibility of uses, which prevents Hicksville from becoming the magnificent urban center that it naturally wants to be. Hicksville is an enormous waste of potential real estate value.  And when a fantastic location’s real estate is constrained from natural change, over time, it decays.

Anti-growth and anti-change activists e.g. NIMBYs decry “Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan…worthy of scorn?” Are you crazy?! Have you visited these urban areas recently? They are absolutely wonderful and exciting…attracting young talent and offering excitement to people who live and work there and people who come from miles away. And their real estate and economic values have skyrocketed.

All Hicksville needs is a relaxed zoning ordinance. No subsidies and no tax abatements. Just a free market and the area will naturally blossom; because the location is just that spectacular. Freedom, try it. You’ll like it.

Clifford Sondock

President, Land Use Institute