Hillside Islamic Center expansion talks delayed, town board OKs former funeral home to be converted into Sikh temple

Hillside Islamic Center expansion talks delayed, town board OKs former funeral home to be converted into Sikh temple
The North Hempstead Town Board held their monthly meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 3. (Photo by Brandon Duffy)

The North Hempstead Town Board delayed a public hearing over the expansion plans for the Hillside Islamic Center and approved the plans for the former R. Stutzmann & Son funeral home on Hillside Avenue to be converted into a Sikh temple. 

Town Board Democrats also voted to approve a local law that requires fiscal impact statements for budgetary items submitted for a board meeting to be given to the comptroller’s office for review.

New Hyde Park residents raised concerns in previous meetings raised concerns with the Islamic center’s expansion plans focused on parking issues related to congregants, some of whom come from Queens.

Hillside Islamic Center Chairman Abdul Aziz Bhuiyan previously said expanding the parking lot into the two adjacent properties would help with the overflow. He also said the center’s security has marked cars violating parking laws but ultimately the enforcement is a Nassau County Police Department matter. 

Council Member David Adhami has also held multiple public meetings with residents to address their concerns. The hearing will continue at the Nov. 14 town board meeting. 

The seven-member town board unanimously approved the expansion plans for the Sikh temple on Hillside on a contingency that the applicants apply for a parking variance within 180 days to remove the buffer in the rear of the building for additional parking.

Adhami said the no parking sign in front of the property can be adjusted following an application that would increase parking.

Council Member Robert Troiano said before voting for the expansion that the applicants have been responsive to concerns, specifically by applying for a parking variance when they don’t need to under town law, and the traffic study for the application showed no increase in traffic on the area.

“I want community members to know it is very unusual that an applicant is within their parking requirements and still agree to submit a variance,” Troiano said. “They are making an accommodation.”

Lurvey said in a statement a resolution on fiscal impact statements will go into effect on Jan. 1 next year due to the vacancies in the comptroller’s office and 

“This decision ensures an independent and impartial assessment of the fiscal impacts of each resolution that the town board members vote on, safeguarding the interests of our community,” Lurvey said.  

Lurvey said she discussed the resolution with former Comptroller Kristen Schwaner before she resigned in August and submitted the fiscal impact statement forms that coincide with the resolution to Paul Wood, the town’s director of finance who is also serving as the interim comptroller. 

Included in the fiscal impact statements to be reviewed by the comptroller’s office would be disclosing the purpose of the legislation, the proposed funding source and whether expenses are accounted for in the town’s budget, among other things. 

DeSena in June submitted a similar resolution that made the town’s director of finance, not the comptroller, review fiscal impact statements. Town Board Democrats abstained from the vote, citing issues over what office should be responsible for reviewing. 

DeSena said Tuesday night she was concerned with the amount of work it would add to the comptroller’s office, which is currently missing a full-time comptroller and two deputies.

“I’m going to vote no because I think that we need to be flexible as we try to adopt this very important legislation that should be helpful and not making it harder on our staff,” DeSena said. 

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