Despite considerable opposition from community residents, the Manorhaven mayor and board of trustees enacted into law an amendment to the village code to create an "Enterprise Waterside" (E-2) Zone on Manhasset Isle. Voting for the legislation were Mayor Nicholas Capozzi and trustees Carolyn Weber and Barry Balcourt. Balcourt was recently appointed to fill out the term of James Tomlinson, who resigned.
The zone creates an "overlay," which allows for a developer to submit a plan to the board of trustees for uses that are approved under the new requirements. The area in question, to the south of Toms Point Lane and Matinecock Avenue and continuing easterly to Sheets Creek, is currently zoned C-1 Commercial. Mayor Capozzi has supported the legislation, saying, in essence, that the change is necessary to revitalize that portion of Manhasset Isle, which he has on numerous occasions described as "like a war zone." Trustees DiLeo and DiLucia, as well as many community residents, were opposed. The most vocal opponent were the houseboat owners, whose 55 floating homes constitute the largest such community remaining on Long Island. Other residents voiced concerns about traffic and fears that it will change the nature of the community and the quality of life on Manhasset Isle. Petitions were presented to the board at the public hearing and again at the trustee's meeting. A number of business owners opposed the change because of the potential negative economic and tax impact of losing the commercial zone Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington wondered how this plan fits in with the visioning process sponsored by the Town of North Hempstead. Supporting the legislation were some marina owners, including Guy LaMotta, who testified at the public hearing and who was quoted in The New York Times (August 27, 2007) as saying, "I can see someone offering me $25 million [for my property], and I'd say goodbye in two seconds and retire to my horse farm in Saratoga."
In a statement to the Port News, trustee John DiLeo said, "It is very disturbing and unfortunate that Mayor Capozzi and his two trustees; Carolyn Weber and Barry Balcourt, have failed to acknowledge any of the public's concerns in reference to the E-2 Overlay District. Opposition to the E-2 waterfront zoning came about in many forms: letters, e-mails, communications to the local papers, public hearings, and petitions that were signed by hundreds and submitted to the board." He observed, "A tie vote forced the mayor to cast the deciding vote." DiLeo said that he fears that the board's action will financially benefit developers at the expense of the community. He added, "We all just lost a huge chunk of our working marine waterfront."
Trustee Rita DiLucia expressed similar sentiments, saying, "I am very disappointed that the E-2 Overlay has passed, especially in its current state. I cannot understand how the mayor, Deputy Mayor Weber and trustee Balcourt could blatantly ignore the requests from the public for further discussion on this matter." She accused Mayor Capozzi of "political maneuvering" and acting to "confuse the public" with respect to this subject. She concluded, "These three people have made a terrible mistake by casting their "yes" vote to allow a development of the waterfront that heralds the beginning of the end of the marinas in Manorhaven Village and the entire Port Washington Community. I applaud those who have had the courage enough to stand up and attempt to defeat the E-2 passage."
The Port News asked Mayor Capozzi to submit a comment on the E-2 vote, but as of press time there was no response.