With the proposed construction of 327 senior housing units located in Port North on one of the large tracts of vacant land on the Cow Neck, Baxter Estates residents and some village officials voiced concern about congestion, traffic, and environmental issues at a recent village meeting.
In a story that could unfold for months to come, Mill Pond Acres has proposed rezoning 41 acres of undeveloped property from economic development A to senior housing. While Baxter Estates has yet to state its official slant on the rezoning and development, several residents and trustees openly disapproved.
"It could strain the taxes, water, roads, and possibly schools, if this project goes ahead," said Baxter trustee John Maher. "I think it's important for the whole community to have a say in this, or the whole community will pay a price."
"It's a shame to lose that open space," said one resident. "I think it's a bad idea to build there. It will cause overcrowding in the area."
Straddling the commercial and industrial areas of Harbor Road and Channel Drive, the privately owned parcel of hardscrabble trails and vegetation is a favorite spot for dog-walkers and dirt-biking youths.
One environmental watchdog dubbed the area an oasis. The 41 acre parcel is located on the northerly side of Pleasant Ave. and the westerly side of Harbor Road.
"We're overloaded," said Jake Eisenman, Baxter's commissioner of environmental affairs. "This is literally an oasis in the middle of the Cow Neck."
Opposition to the plan among community, environmental, and private groups is mounting, according to Eisenman.
"There's growing sentiment against this development," he said. "These open areas are necessary to protect to watershed."
Though Baxter Estates has no control over the rezoning - the five-member Port North Board of Trustees will eventually decide it - Baxter Mayor James Neville raised the issue at a Dec. 3 board of trustees meeting. He urged residents to attend a Port North public hearing on the plan, slated for Dec. 11 at Landmark on Main Street.
"We'd like to get as many people as possible to the hearing at Landmark," said Neville.
"Right now, Baxter Estates has no official position," he said. "We want to allow the issue to be aired. Let's listen to all sides, then, maybe we'll take a position."
Neville and the board approved a mailing to all Baxter residents notifying them of the Dec. 11 hearing.
Editor's Note: Because it occurred after this issue's press time, expanded coverage of the Dec. 11 Port Washington North land hearing will appear in next week's Port Washington News.