Written by Margaret Whitely Friday, 14 May 2010 00:00
Many members of the immediate community gathered at Clinton Martin Park Recreational Center recently in support of Dominick’s Delicatessen, located on the corner of Herricks Road and Wilson Park.
North Hempstead Town Councilman Angelo Ferrara and Councilwoman Lee Seeman were representing the town board and Michael Levine, North Hempstead Town Commissioner of Planning was also present.
Ferrara opened the meeting by giving a brief background of the property which was originally Dietz Dairy, which housed barns where the cows were kept. Those barns are still on the property behind the deli and are used for storage.
Ferrara also explained that a garden center was also, at one time, the occupant of the property, but due to the complaints of the neighbors that it was not maintained properly, that facility was removed by the town.
Ferrara continued, “At the time the garden center was shut down, the town also looked at the code and realized that Dominick’s Deli was not allowed on the property either because when the code was written it was determined that only dairy products could be sold on that property.”
“Therefore, a procedure took place to shut down the delicatessen and neighbors in the area and even outside the area signed a petition and presented it to the town to keep the deli open.
“The property then went before the Board of Zoning and Appeals to get a special use permit to allow the deli to stay and it was denied. So, there were two alternatives; one was to go through the court system and to sue and that did begin and went through a certain level in the court system and at the same time we looked at it through the town’s standpoint to see how we can resolve this whole problem in an amicable way to save the deli from having to shut down but to improve the property without taking anything away from the value of the residents property, their safety and the quality of life of the residents.
“So, two years ago we began this process with the owners to look at options to improve the property and to save Dom’s Deli. The first meeting we had six plans and we dismissed many of them. One of them was to build apartments and that is not going to happen. However, a rumor was circulated that we were going ahead with that plan and that is simply not true.
“We are not going to build apartment houses nor are we going to build individual houses on the property. But, there is something in the plan that will allow the owners to do something productive with their property and after all they do deserve a fair return on their property.”
Councilman Ferrara then took a minute to introduce Councilwoman Lee Seeman. The deli is actually within her district in the town. She said, “This meeting is really great. This is the grass roots and one of the reasons I love to be a town councilwoman, to hear the issues, work on them and reflect on what the people want. So thank you a million times for coming to this meeting.”
She turned the floor back to Ferrara who continued on with the meeting.
Ferrara said, “If you remember the design right now is Dom’s Deli, a couple of buildings in the back (the old cow barns), used for storage and another building that faces the street. A place for parking in between that.
“One of the proposals we are looking at is changing the zoning. Right now the property is zoned for residential. In residential, owners can build a certain number of homes and that would preclude Dom’s deli from that plan.
“So one of the things we talked about to try to salvage Dom’s deli for community is to move Dom’s Deli and rebuild it more toward Herricks Road and Wilson Boulevard.
“There would be an advantage to moving Dom’s Deli to the front of the property and that would be the addition of parking. The deli would be surrounded with plantings and the old barns in the back would be removed, There would then be room to construct a professional building that would not be any higher than the buildings on the property now and they would not take anything away from the community.
“So that’s one proposal. The second proposal is to construct six townhouses facing Wilson Boulevard with a professional building and keeping Dom’s Deli where it is.
“Of the six proposals these were the two we felt were the most reasonable for the residents.”
He then presented plans for each of the proposals for the residents to see.
Ferrara said, “My opinion, and since I live around the corner, I too, am interested, would be to construct the professional building and to move Dom’s Deli and to secure additional parking.”
He then opened the meeting to the floor. One resident said, “Let’s follow the money. The Zito family who owns the property, and lives in Old Westbuty, will make a lot of money from this plan. I love Dom’s Deli. They make a good sandwich. They could do as well if they moved to Hillside or Jericho and I would love to see nice single family homes there with a cul de sac and that would be fine.”
His suggestion was not met with much favor, in fact many boos and hoots since the majority of the folks in the audience were there with only one objective and that was to see that Dom’s Deli was not moved.
One resident wanted to know what the village of Mineola was going to build on the corner, opposite Dom’s Deli, on Herricks Road where the old Gulf service station was located.
It just happened that the Village of Mineola Mayor Jack Martins was in the audience and he explained that the property was going to be sold with just a single family house on it.
Resident after resident came to the microphone and begged to keep Dom’s Deli.
Apparently, as it was explained by Councilman Ferrara, the only way that will happen if the town decides to take a portion of the property and rezone just that portion as commercial so that Dom’s Deli can remain on the property.
Councilman Ferrara ended the meeting by saying, “First and foremost, I want everyone to understand that this was an informational meeting. It was a meeting for you to understand where we are in the planning process and an evening for you to give us your thoughts on the property. Now, having been given all your thoughts, we will go back to the planning board and discuss your ideas and we will come back to you. But, be assured no decision will be made until we have another meeting and discuss our plans with you.”