At a meeting last week, Rockville Centre passed a law that will make it more difficult for businesses that will generate a lot of parking to come into the village.
The new law was unanimously passed by the Board of Trustees at its meeting on March 3. It states that any new business entering the village with a designated occupancy of 50 or more — or any existing business expanding to that size — must require special permission from the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA).
“We’ve gotten a lot of feedback and we’ve recognized that as great and vibrant as our downtown is, we seem to have mostly restaurants and large gathering places coming in,” said Deputy Mayor Nancy Howard, who co-wrote the law with Trustee Michael Sepe. “And we want to have a balance of retail.”
The law specifically designates types of businesses that would fall under the new occupancy requirement. They include restaurants, bars, theaters, nightclubs, cafes, multi-family residences, medical office buildings, hotels or motels and more.
“We’re absolutely not putting a moratorium on restaurants,” Howard said. “And as the law stands, if one of our existing restaurants were to be sold to someone else, they don’t have to reapply for a license.”
The idea came, Howard said, after many businesses and residents complained about the lack of parking in the downtown area. The hope is that the law will help balance the large number of restaurants and bars in the village with more retail spaces, which have lower occupancy and use less parking.
“All of Nassau County is becoming more congested and slightly more urbanized,” said Howard. “We’d rather take the growth by the hand and be able to have some ways to manage it so we don’t lose what Rockville Centre has always been: a charming community with great homes and a vibrant downtown.”
Greg Schaefer, the vice president of the Rockville Centre Chamber of Commerce, said that his organization supported the measure.
“It’s not to say that [large businesses] won’t be allowed to be in town, they’ll just have to go in front of the town,” he said. “Which we see as a positive as well. So everyone knows what’s coming in, it’s not just new things popping up here and there.”
The law won’t affect any businesses that have already filed applications with the BZA. When asked if the measure could actually hurt businesses, Howard said it wouldn’t.
“Maybe it’s an extra step, but no [it won’t hurt businesses],” she said. “It’s not our intention. It’s really just something that’s in our toolbox.”