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Peter Mineo, an attorney representing the Lewis Oil Company, flew a trial balloon up in front of the board of trustees of the Village of Port North last week. Stressing that it is a preliminary one, he presented the board with a conceptual plan for a shopping center on the 7.7 acre site on the east side of Shore Road. The redevelopment of the parcel requires a rezoning by the board of trustees from an economic development zone "A" to commercial zone, and a granting of a conditional use permit from the village's board of appeals.(The approximately .3 acres will remain on the west side of Shore Road, along the waterfront, for Lewis Oil business offices.)

For now, the plan calls for four separate buildings on the site; two free standing, one-story construction, eat-in restaurants, approximately 7,500 square feet each, to be located close to Shore Road; another 15,500 square foot building for a few or just one satellite retail store(s); and a 68,550 square foot supermarket. (As a frame of reference, this would be two and a half times the size of Grand Union.) Mr. Mineo noted that the shopping center, with its 400 parking spaces, would have an integrated architectural style and design and a parking lot with landscaping.

Lewis Oil ordered the Sear Browne firm to conduct a traffic study of the area. Their expert, Jim Poglin, reported that the impact on the area would not be that significant, remaining in the "B" comfort zone. He explained that ratings A-D are acceptable levels of comfort at an intersection; a rating of E or F indicate that motorists are uncomfortable. Trustee Goodstadt asked what this means in real terms. The expert replied that the traffic delay will increase from five to 15 seconds.

The environmental expert hired by the Lewis Oil Company reported that for the proposed redevelopment, his investigation did not show any significant issues. He did note, however, that once the builders remove the tanks, some cleanup might be necessary.

Port North Mayor Tom Pellegrino voiced concerns about the proposed project. He questioned whether a third supermarket in the area would be viable, or if it might put one of the other supermarkets out of business. He also noted that vacancies already exist in the Soundview Shopping Center. "Can we support a third shopping center," asked the mayor. Mr. Mineo replied "Yes. It has a smaller component of satellite stores."

Trustee Altman said that the center's viability would "depend upon its anchor store."

Village Attorney Steve Limmer told the developers, "We need an opinion from a planner."

Concerns over the anticipated increase in traffic generated by the proposal were also voiced by the mayor, trustees and residents.

Mr. Mineo stressed that the proposal is a work in progress and that for now he just wants to obtain feedback from the board and community.

He did note that "as of right" an office building could be erected on the site, which would result in more rush hour traffic.

Peter DeJana, president of DeJana Industries, attended the meeting and expressed interest in moving some of his operation to the site. "I'll speak with them," he said.

Mr. Mineo concluded the presentation saying that he thinks another meeting in the future will most likely take place.

Another site that could be developed was discussed at the meeting. The water and sewer districts recently had inquiries regarding the 41 acre tract owned by Dallas Realty from Sandy Hollow Housing. The proposed use is for 327 senior housing units. This would involve a zoning change from light industrial to residential, which is within the jurisdiction of the board of trustees.

Mayor Pellegrino pointed out that the developers have not filed any applications or even asked to come before the board. Trustee Altman pointed out that businesses often obtain information merely to ascertain the feasibility of a project.

Speaking on development in general, Trustee Bert Goodstadt said, "We have to take into account what's going on on the Peninsula." He added, "We have an obligation to listen to all proposals and make a determination based on the facts." When asked to comment on the two projects discussed at the meeting, he replied, "At this point, it's not proper. We haven't heard the facts."

Speaking on the same topic, Trustee Altman said, "I'm opposed to development that negatively affects our quality of life." He added, however, that people differ on what they believe is going to have the least negative impact on quality of life.

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