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Searching for closure, or at least progress, on the construction of the new Shields Hardware store, the Village of Baxter Estates has imposed a strict timetable for planning, paperwork and construction at the Main and High Street site. The timetable, presented and passed as a resolution at a March 3 meeting of the Board of Trustees, sets specific limits, in days and months, on how Shields must proceed to retain construction approval from the Village. Under these guidelines, the new building could be in place in as little as a year.

The Village Board of Trustees also officially approved Shields' plans (see Feb. 12 Port Washington News) for the new store. Those plans must now be approved by the Village's Building Inspector and Board of Appeals.

With that approval, Shields will have 30 days to apply to the Village for a building permit. Sixty days after that they must submit "complete construction plans and specifications," according to the resolution. "Construction within the scope of the building permit... will be completed so a certificate of occupancy can be issued by the Village within nine months of the building permit." If they fail to comply, the "resolution authorizing the construction... shall be... automatically revoked."

The Shields site has endured numerous abortive attempts to be rebuilt after the original store burned to its shell in 1990, including an August 1996 cave-in of a foundation wall that trapped a construction worker for almost two hours. All building permits issued by the Village have since expired.

Village officials hope the timetable will speed up the planning and construction process.

"In the past," said Trustee William Haagenson, "it's been hurry up and wait. Now we want it to be hurry up and move."

A Shields representative said they would abide by the timetable. "We have no choice," said attorney Bruce Migatz, but added Shields would like to amend the expired building permit rather than apply for a new one. "If we can amend the old permit we have a much better chance of sticking to this timetable."

"When the building permit application comes in," said Village Attorney John Farrell, Jr., "if he wants to apply for an amendment, that's fine. But that application hasn't arrived yet."

In a related move, the Village adjourned a public hearing that would have rescinded a zoning change given to Shields in 1994 for a small section of the construction site. That change, from business-zoned back to residential-only usage would, according to attorney Migatz, have effectively put Shields "back to square one."

Baxter Estates will elect two trustees at a March 17 election. Current trustees Renee Greenspan and John Weaver are running unopposed for the two-year unpaid positions.

Two years ago, Greenspan was challenged by a brisk write-in vote, but won re-election. Both candidates should have no problem this year. "We don't expect anything unusual this year," said one village official.

Polling is from noon to 9 p.m. at Village Hall in the Fleet Bank building on Shore Rd.

"Mark you calendar," said Read. "Maybe you can leave a sack of cans at your door, if you're not going to be home."

"This is a fairly broad-based program," added Trustee John Weaver citing the involvement of local churches.

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