Great Neck Estates board unanimously adopts business overlay district

Great Neck Estates board unanimously adopts business overlay district
Great Neck Estates village hall. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

The Village of Great Neck Estates Board of Trustees unanimously adopted plans to establish a business overlay district on its portion of Middle Neck Road Thursday.

The new local law, which takes effect immediately, changes the village’s business “D” district to a pair of business overlay districts along Middle Neck Road. The two incentive zoning districts are located on the portions of Middle Neck Road both north and south of Cedar Drive and would decrease the number of residential units from what is permitted under the current zoning laws.

No more than one residential unit will be permitted for every 800 square feet of lot area in both districts, officials said.

In the district north of Cedar Drive, the maximum height for a building is now five stories, or 55 feet, while the district south of Cedar Drive has a maximum building height of four stories, or 45 feet. The previous maximum height allowed in the business “D” district was 2.5 stories, or 25 feet.

The report conducted by BFJ Planning and presented in December by Frank Fish, a founding principal at BFJ, estimated that approximately 143 residential units would be established in the next 10-15 years if the zoning proposal was adopted. Within those 143 residential units, Fish said, it is estimated that 29 school-age children would be accounted for.

Great Neck Estates Mayor William Warner said the village, in conjunction with BFJ Planning, has been working on developing the overlay district plan for more than a year in efforts to revitalize not just the village’s portion of Middle Neck Road, but the peninsula’s business district.

Village officials also reiterated that some projects in the village, including the First Playhouse project, have been in development for more than a decade without a single tenant moving into those properties.

The developments, officials said, would not be approved overnight and those seeking to build in the village would still have to present detailed plans and studies to the board and be subject to public hearings on future proposals.

John O’Keefe, assistant superintendent for the Great Neck School District, said BFJ’s report included data from the district that had not been finalized nor approved by board trustees as of Thursday. Warner said the village has been in communication with the school district since a December meeting where plans were discussed by the public.

O’Keefe said Thursday that the district’s data report should be finalized soon.

Fish said that the data analyzed from thousands of multi-family units on Long Island and in parts of New York State shows that a majority of tenants in those buildings are either singles, empty-nesters or younger couples who may or may not have a child not old enough to attend school.

Warner and the other village officials expressed their desire to work with the school district so that the school-age children’s projections are as accurate as possible.

The mayor also said developers have been “chomping at the bit” to try and build in the village, but underscored the importance of having the right development done responsibly and that all stakeholder input is taken into consideration.

“We’re trying to do this in the most responsible way to make this happen and not have 15 projects go at once,” Warner said during the meeting. “It’s going to be a very slow-moving process that we want to be able to control.”

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