The North Hills Planning Board reserved decision on a modification to a previously approved site plan for the Lord & Taylor store in Manhasset at its meeting last Wednesday.
The site plan, which was approved on June 23 by the North Hempstead town council, calls for a two-story addition that will add 37,150 square-feet to the existing store at 1440 Northern Blvd.
The plan will result in the removal of 70 parking spaces from the existing 573 parking spaces and the addition of 16 spaces on the southern field.
That would leave the parking lot with 519 parking spaces — 21 less than the 540 required by the town.
The retailer’s attorney, Howard Avrutine said that the Board of Zoning Appeals granted his client a variance for the 21-space deficiency. Project engineer Courtney Riley of VHB Engineering noted that in compliance with a letter from Building Inspector Donald Alberto on June 25, 2015, the parking provided by the retailer will also include 11 ADA parking spaces.
Planning board member Janet De Winter expressed concern with the reduction in parking spaces accompanying the addition, saying that she thought there might not be enough parking available.
Traffic consultant Robert Eschbacher, also of VHB, said the retailer determined that there would be a sufficient number of parking spaces after observing traffic on the two busiest shopping days — Friday and Saturday — on several occasions and projecting how many additional cars would be parked with the additional square-footage to the store.
“What we have noticed is that there is a tendency with the upper parking lot for many people to circulate around in there to have closer parking,” he said. “By directing all vehicles down to the larger, lower lot and reorienting the entrance to the building to face that lot, we are very confident based on the results of the analysis that there will be adequate parking.”
Avrutine said if the necessary approvals are granted, Lord & Taylor hopes to begin construction shortly after January 1, 2016.
The store, he said, plans to remain open during construction. The project is projected to take about 13 months.
The site requires approval from both the Town of North Hempstead and the Village of North Hills, as the building sits on the village and town line.
Avrutine said the town board approved a similar site plan in 2011, but Lord & Taylor decided not to go through with construction at the time. He said the amended plan is architecturally different from what was originally proposed.
Riley said many changes have been made since the 2011 proposal, including the creation of an additional lane exiting the site to increase traffic flow. She said two retaining walls were added, one located on the east side of the building and the other at the loading dock to increase truck maneuverability.
“Although the original footprint has been reshaped, the total gross area has remained the same,” she said.
She added that a flat surface would now exist at the front entrance to allow for ADA pedestrian access. The original plan called for only stairs at the entrance.
Riley said the retailer plans to modify the drop-off access point on Northern Boulevard, which currently has one lane in and one lane out. The modification will result in two lanes out, both of which will have right-turn access and one of which will have left-turn access.
Planning Board Chairman David Kass closed the hearing after the public made no comments for or against the plan.
Many North Hills residents appeared at the planning board meeting to express disapproval toward an ongoing application from NY Excelsior Realty Corporation, which is seeking to subdivide a lot located on IU Willets Road into four lots to build homes at the site.
Residents said the plan would lead to drainage problems and an increase in the number of cars on IU Willets Road. They also said the destruction of foliage and installation of a chain-link fence called for in the plan would hurt the aesthetics of the area.
Some residents said the construction would “change the entire look of the area” and make it feel as if they lived in New York City.
Village Attorney Thomas Levin told residents that the board will need professional reports to back up their claims.
Kass made a motion for the hearing be continued to allow residents to obtain reports supporting their claims, which would have to be submitted 14 days in advance of the hearing.
The next meeting is scheduled to take place on Aug. 12 at 7:30 p.m. at Village Hall.