Residents push back on 15 Barstow Road apartment complex

Residents push back on 15 Barstow Road apartment complex
The property developer's architect holds up a poster with the rendering of the building's design for residents to see. (Photo by Cameryn Oakes)

The developers of 15 Barstow Road in Great Neck Plaza have changed their plans from a mixed-use building to just an apartment complex in response to community concerns, but residents continue to oppose the proposal.

“So what we are proposing is something we believe is responsive to the concerns that were expressed, I think creates a situation where there is a betterment – not only the proposed project but a betterment for you [Great Neck Plaza],” the developer’s attorney, Paul Bloom, said.

Residents opposed the revised plans at a hearing Wednesday night, citing concerns over traffic, pedestrian safety, visual impacts and a lack of need for the luxury apartments in the village or greater peninsula.

“It’s a mess as it is,” Great Neck Plaza resident Ruth Goldfarb said about the traffic. “I imagine this [development] will make it messier.”

Residents and a trustee from Thomaston also joined in the opposition.

The developers of 15 Barstow Road came before the board last May to present a four-story, 57-unit apartment complex with 4,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor.

But Bloom said the retail space was removed from its plans and replaced with additional housing in response to community concerns about the traffic the stores would draw in.

Bloom said the property developers have digested the comments from the last hearing and the modified plans are in response to those resident concerns.

Now with the removal of the retail portion, the proposal has expanded its 57 housing units to 69.

Residents could be heard audibly groaning and speaking out in opposition to the increased number of units.

“We are here because we want to build a building and make a profit,” Bloom said. “And there’s nothing to be embarrassed of about that.”

With the retail element removed, the proposal is no longer considered a mixed-use development. Because of this, the village would need to pass a local law that permits the residential development of the property before the plans could be approved.

While the property’s plans changed, Bloom said many aspects stayed the same including the building’s height set at 49 and a half feet above the grade.

The plans include two floors of an enclosed parking garage below the grade of the property. The two floors of parking are considered to be at the basement and cellar floors of the building.

However, due to the change in grade, the two floors of parking below grade are visible from Barstow Road. Residents like Thomas Flood argued that this made it appear to be a six-story building.

Flood, the co-owner of Richland Management, which represents 10 surrounding buildings in opposition to the plan, called the building a “monolithic curtain wall” due to its height and design.

He said he also found the parking lot reaching the property line problematic, saying it would set a harmful precedent for future builders after it was previously prohibited by the village in past developments.

Flood said his management group intends to find a solution for the development that is more beneficial to the community and with safety in mind, understanding there is not much that can be done to block the project altogether.

More than a dozen residents spoke in opposition to the development, citing concerns over traffic and pedestrian safety as well as grievances with the size and look of the building.

Residents in opposition traveled from the neighboring Village of Thomaston, saying the development will have visual and traffic impacts on their village as well.

“However, they don’t have to do it here, they don’t have to do it in this village and they don’t have to do it on the Great Neck Peninsula,” Thomaston resident and Trustee Nancy Sherman said.

Parking and traffic were the main concerns expressed by residents at the last hearing, which continued Wednesday night despite the modifications.

The property is required to provide 113 parking spots to accommodate the number of units, which the plans include. But also included are an additional 34 parking spots which Bloom said would be contributed to the village’s parking fund.

The parking being donated to the village would be distributed to residents in the surrounding area who do not have parking themselves, which would be up to the village’s discretion in awarding.

“This is now providing something which is a benefit to those people who are surrounding us and a program which we want no part of other than providing this to those residents,” Bloom said.

With the additional parking, the parking garage would be extending off the side of the property. This would create a terrace connected to the building along the building’s sloping elevation on the side.

Without the parking garage extension to the side, about 11 fewer parking spots would be offered.

The garage would also include an entrance on Barstow Road, which residents and board members expressed concerns about due to the heavy traffic from its proximity to the Long Island Rail Road station.

Many residents shared stories of pedestrian dangers along the road, saying they were worried that even more traffic brought in by the apartment building could worsen the risks.

Other residents argued there is no need for additional housing, especially non-affordable housing in the village, citing empty apartments throughout the peninsula.

Before the public hearing on the proposal began, Rosen told the attendees that no decision would be made on the requested permit Wednesday night. He said the updated proposal was not received until the Friday beforehand, and the village needed additional time to review the plans before making a decision.

The public hearing will continue on July 17, pushing out the next appearance three months in the future to give the village and the resident management group ample time to review the plans.

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  1. The usual complaining. Again, these people are crisis actors who show up at every meeting blocking housing construction in the name of “character” or “traffic concerns.”
    The opposition is the point. Nothing will satisfy them.
    They’re a cancer on our society.


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