The Mineola Board of Trustees voted unanimously to create two business overlay districts on part of Jericho Turnpike and downtown to give the village more flexibility when considering future developments.
The vote accomplishes something Mayor Paul Pereira said he wanted to do early in his administration when he was elected this year.
“When I became mayor, one of the first things I did was call our urban planner, Paul Grygiel, to come to Mineola and walk the turnpike and walk downtown,” Pereira said Wednesday night. “Over the next few months, we worked on a plan to come up with ideas to reinvigorate the village and think of alternative ways to develop the vacant spaces.”
Specifically, the districts take place on the strip of Jericho between Willis Avenue and Marcellus Road and downtown on Main Street, First Street and Second Street between Mineola Boulevard and Willis.
The first public hearing for a proposal that would use the new downtown overlay district is set for Wednesday, Dec. 14.
If approved by the board, future developments can now exceed the maximum height of 25 feet but not go above 40 feet within the districts, which places a cap on what the village’s master plan enacted in 2005 allowed.
Pereira added the districts allow the village and developers to “think outside the box.”
“The motivation for me is not to build higher, build denser and add more congestion, it’s quite the opposite,” Pereira said. “The motivation for me, as someone who grew up here, I remember seeing outside village hall a hardware store, liquor store, clothing stores. Those other businesses are not coming back and what we have is empty storefronts.”
The board began the process to consider the districts in December when Grygiel, a city planning and development consultant with experience in the village, presented his findings on how to revitalize different parts of Mineola.
Grygiel noted then that the master plan labeled the Jericho Turnpike area as an appropriate place for pedestrian-oriented development, mentioning specifically that some outside-the-box methods of increasing development would be mixed-residential buildings, a conference space, hotel or movie theater, among other possibilities.
Pereira clarified for the audience Wednesday the districts do not mean there is going to be an influx of unwanted development. For Jericho, He said he does not envision it changing drastically in the near future but said the village has more options both now and decades in the future.
“This does not mean there is going to be a hotel on every corner or three and four-story buildings up and down Jericho, quite the contrary,” Pereira said. “If we are presented with something that doesn’t fit with the view of the board or the character of the neighborhood, we can always say no.”
For additional residential units to be developed, current regulations outside the districts require parking spaces to be put in place. With the new districts, the board can require future developers to pay toward a parking trust fund that the village can use in the future to buy land and create more parking.
Pereira also added that he hopes to see owners that are not taking care of their properties use the new possibilities to start doing so or welcome new ones to fix the vacant storefronts.
“I’m passionate about this, I’m passionate about our village and I’m passionate about taking it forward,” Pereira said. “I think this gives us the tools to try and fix this.”