Save Our Shorelines

Southern Land Company, a national real estate firm, has proposed constructing a luxury apartment building on Hempstead Harbor’s last remaining green corridor, just north of North Hempstead Beach Park.  On July 18, 2022, SLC drafted an environmental impact statement for the Port Washington development project, which claimed that the “transformative project would not incur any negative impacts on the environment or greater community.”  SLC also stated in the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) that the project would provide tangible benefits to the community and the Town of North Hempstead. 

 “What currently sits as an undeveloped property in the community that is affecting the local ecosystem will be transformed into a beautiful development, complete with plentiful green space and amenities for all to enjoy,” said SLC founder and CEO Tim Downey. 

A local environmental advocacy group, Transition Town Port Washington, has started a petition to prevent construction, since it is likely to pollute the beaches and trails.  This organization believes the construction of this apartment building sets a dangerous precedent by allowing real estate companies to endanger local environments in pursuit of their business interests.  Transition Town Port Washington also believes it is possible that projects like these will pollute not only Port Washington but also other towns nearby, resulting in traffic, overpopulation, and congestion comparable to that of New York City.  This will harm local ecosystems and contribute to environmental damage. 

However, according to SLC, the construction of the buildings includes a clean up of contaminants in the area. “Because of the grade change from the street to the water, all runoff over the years goes down off the street through the site and into the water when it rains,” said Joe Rossi, SLC’sDirector of Acquisitions for the Northeast. “All the sediment under the water is pretty contaminated. And to build the marina we have planned, we have to dredge. So we will pull out a lot of the contaminated soils and piles.”

Another concern of Transition Town Port Washington is that the building’s construction would violate several zoning code provisions, and in the event of a major storm, all residents would be forced to evacuate.  Transition Town Port Washington believes the apartments will not be built to withstand severe weather conditions, especially given its proximity to the coast.

 “We can mitigate the impact of rising sea levels and storm water runoff by restoring the shoreline wetland ecosystem instead of cementing it over,” said the organization’s president, Margaret Galbraith.

A hearing will take place on Sept. 28, at 7 p.m., and residents of the Town of North Hempstead will be able to discuss and debate the construction of the apartment buildings. In a press statement, Southern Land Company stated they hope residents will take advantage of the Town of North Hempstead public comment meetings to express questions and concerns. According to Council member Mariann Dalimonte’s weekly newsletter, resident comments can be sent via email to [email protected] to be put on the record until the public comment period is closed on Oct. 31.