The North Hempstead Town Board will be continuing a public hearing at the Oct. 13 meeting to discuss amending a zoning law that would allow the town to revoke certificates of occupancy or existing use.
Currently, there is a procedure in place to revoke both certificates on residential properties, not commercial ones.
The seven-member board unanimously agreed to continue the hearing during the Sept. 22 meeting after multiple residents and business owners objected to the wording of the local law.
If passed in its current form, the steps needed to be taken before removing either certificate include an investigation from the commissioner of building and safety inspection and enforcement and writing a notice of violations if they are found to be creating a hazard to public health or safety, among other steps.
If the owner of the commercial property found to be in violation fails or refuses to comply with the previous steps, the town board may hold a public hearing where they may direct the commissioner to revoke the certificates afterward.
Multiple town board members said a similar law is in place for residential properties and the amendment fills a gap in the town code.
Many residents said the loose verbiage of the code means that anyone can call in a fraudulent complaint on a business and trigger an inspection from the town, which would be expensive to combat regardless if a business owner was found in violation or not.
Port Washington resident Frank Scobbo said public safety is a broad brush and could possibly make businesses more susceptible to potential investigations.
“Businesses are very easy targets,” Scobbo said. “I think that the way that it’s written is ambiguous and can be interpreted in a lot of different ways.”
Members from the town board clarified that business owners operating within the intended use of the certificates would not be found in violation.
“We’re asking for compliance with what the certificates were issued for,” said Democratic Councilman Robert Troiano during the public comments.
Aldo Calabrese, a co-owner of a Port Washington-based landscaping company and officer of the North Hempstead Business Association, asked the board to continue the discussion in October and to meet with him between meetings to discuss further better ways to implement the changes.
“We are not advocates of skirting violations,” Calabrese said. “That’s not what we are about. We are advocates of giving a voice and helping mediate.”
The next meeting for the North Hempstead Town Board will be Thursday, Oct. 13.