Middle Neck Road ‘revitalization’ report likely to be presented in January

Middle Neck Road ‘revitalization’ report likely to be presented in January
VHB will be presenting recommendations for the "revitalization" of a portion of Middle Neck Road. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

The consultant for the Village of Great Neck on its “revitalization” project for Middle Neck Road and East Shore Road will likely give a final presentation on Jan. 15, after more than a year’s worth of study.

Both Joe Gill, the village clerk-treasurer, and Mayor Pedram Bral said on Monday the meeting would likely take place on Jan. 15 – the lone January meeting of the Board of Trustees – and that the report will be on the village’s website beforehand.

A representative for VHB Engineering, the consultant, deferred comment on the meeting date to the village.

Bral said the meeting, which will also be streamed on the village’s Facebook page, would address concerns about housing and storefronts and provide an opportunity for residents to ask questions and voice concerns about VHB’s proposals.

“I believe it’s important for people either to see it online or come to the meeting because it is going to have new changes that are being proposed by VHB,” Bral said. “I think it’s good for them to know what these changes are and why.”

The village hired VHB Engineering to study a stretch of Middle Neck Road last year to propose potential zoning changes for the area and conduct an environmental impact study for up to $100,000. VHB is also analyzing changes for East Shore Road.

“The plan for VHB is to better the corridor, to have a downtown and area that more people can use,” Bral said.

There have been a handful of meetings throughout the year.

In September, VHB highlighted three “underdeveloped” sites – the Academy Gardens apartment complex, the current public works property, the corner of Hicks Lane and Middle Neck Road, and other potential development spots along Middle Neck Road.

Prior to that in March, representatives from VHB said there is a “lack of cohesive identity” among buildings on Middle Neck Road and East Shore Road, underutilized parking, business vacancies and a need to increase residential development to help the commercial sector.

Among their suggestions for Middle Neck Road were raising the maximum allowable building height to five stories, relaxing parking restrictions, calming traffic at dangerous intersections and embracing developments that have both retail and residential components.

For East Shore Road, VHB also suggested expanding incentive zoning to East Shore Road, streetscape improvements and boosting walkability in the area.

A citizens advisory committee, which is working with VHB, also offered recommendations earlier this year for Middle Neck Road and East Shore Road.

In May, the panel suggested simplifying the site plan approval process, creating a vibrant walkable space, updating the zoning codes and incentivizing developers to invest in other modes of transportation to reduce reliance on cars.

Robert Barbach, the village’s former building superintendent who is now a consultant to the village, previously said this follows a 2013 corridor study. That study led to the creation of incentive zoning but not the results the board wanted, he said.

“The purpose of the study was to identify potential amendments to the zoning code that could stimulate the desired multifamily residential and commercial development to desired sites,” Barbach said.

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