A pending application to open a coffee shop, part of the For Five Coffee chain, on Plandome Road near the intersection of Park Avenue has elicited concerns from local civic officials about the shop exacerbating parking and traffic issues in the area.
“Everyone wants the retail establishments along Plandome Road to thrive,” said Andrew Schwenk, the first vice president of the Council of Greater Manhasset Civic Associations. “This new addition to our community is welcomed as a walking destination. However, all one needs to do is look one block north at Starbucks to anticipate creation of a new severe pedestrian safety and vehicular congestion problem.”
Paul Christakos, the owner of Queens-based Christakos Architecture, filed an application in October with the Town of North Hempstead Building Department seeking to change the property at 292 Plandome Road from a commercial use to a food use in order to accommodate the coffee shop.
“The building department denied us because of parking,” Christakos said.
The building department instructed him to go to the town Board of Zoning Appeals, where Christakos has a pending application for a parking variance and the subsequent building use permit.
Christakos objected to concerns about the lack of sufficient parking on Plandome Road.
“There is a pretty substantially sized municipal lot across the street,” Christakos said. “I know that’s for the train station but Plandome Road is a central hub of the neighborhood. To keep a corner spot like that [building] vacant for god knows how long, I think it’s right to make it open.”
“I think there’s enough parking in the municipal lot across the street to accommodate the establishment,” he added.
Schwenk said increased congestion in the municipal parking lot would worsen existing problems there.
“The addition of a new food service business requiring a variance for insufficient parking at the corner of Plandome Road and Park Avenue has the perfect storm,” Schwenk said. “Converging with cars double parked as the Long Island Railroad lets out and a large volume of cars to pick up Long Island Railroad commuters along both Plandome Road and Park Avenue.”
John Minogue, the president of Bayview Civic Association, agreed with Schwenk.
“If the police adequately and consistently enforced the vehicle traffic law and the town parking ordinances to bring order to the Plandome Road area then maybe some flexibility would be merited,” Minogue said. “Unfortunately that is not the reality, and thus the town should not grant exceptions to applicants that do not have the required parking.”
Christakos said his firm has hired an outside group to conduct a traffic study, the results of which he has yet to see.
The Board of Zoning Appeals hearing on the parking variance and food-use permit is scheduled to take place on March 8.
If the approvals are issued, work on the building will begin “right away,” Christakos said.
He could not predict when the work would be complete or when the 29-seat coffee shop would open.