Apartment complex under fire

Apartment complex under fire

Village of Great Neck Estates residents expressed unanimous disapproval of a proposed 40-unit apartment complex at 212-230 Middle Neck Road during a public hearing Monday night.

A standing-room only audience expressed concerns with traffic, parking availability, and quality of life.

“I live on North Clover Road and have an asthmatic child, so I’m very concerned that the additional traffic will cause the air quality to worsen,” Linda Horowitz said.

Zelda Burger questioned what additional village resources would be needed for the new apartment complex.

“This is going to cause Great Neck Estates to require additional police, and fireman,” Burger said.

Village of Great Neck Estates Mayor David Fox stressed that village’s consideration of the project was in its early stages.

“This hearing is in relation to the possible environmental impact the complex would have on the village and what concerns the public wants us to look into,” Fox said. “No decisions or approvals have been made, this is simply a meeting to gain input from the public so we can put together an environmental impact study. We are aware that a lot of people are unhappy hearing about the idea of an apartment complex.”

Fox said the developer of the project, GN Properties LLC, approached the village six years ago with the same proposal, but was met with heavy opposition from residents and the project never progressed.

“We’re revisiting this issue because six years is a long time and lot can change in that period,” Fox said. “The economy has changed, along with the population, and we wanted to give a chance to discuss this again with the village and see if its something we want to pursue.”

The project calls for 82 parking spaces to go along with the 40 units.

Representatives of GN Properties did not comment on the project or the residents’ concerns at the public portion of the meeting and also declined to comment on the public’s reaction following the meeting.

Residents said the traffic is already “terrible” on Middle Neck Road and that the complex would only add to more problems.

Fox said the Town of North Hempstead and the village will perform a traffic study to see the possible impact the apartment complex would have on the village.

“I agree the traffic on Middle Neck Road is a horror and we will be doing a study,” Fox said.

The idea of a traffic study did little to appease residents, as several residents claimed past traffic studies on new projects always reflected favorably for the village.

“Every project in the past that had a traffic study has shown that there was no negative impact on the village,” Howard Whitesman said.

Jason Applebaum asked the mayor to help reassure everyone the legitimacy of the traffic study.

“What I am hearing here is a lot of people concerned about this traffic study,” Applebaum said. “A lot of us think we’re going to get railroaded by the traffic study and if there is something you could say to reassure us that won’t happen.”

Fox reiterated the village’s pledge that they will take every concern seriously.

“This board has always been extra concerned about the needs of the village,” Fox said. “We are one of the few who don’t get paid to serve – we are you. We hear you and will look at every single concern that the village has. I don’t think you all want to see a crisis created and neither do we. You have to say you have confidence in us.”

Residents also raised concern that the developer, GN Properties LLC is seeking a zoning incentive amendment that gives them the ability to construct a multi-dwelling building, on a single-family zoned property.

“When I moved here 43 years ago, I moved because I wanted to live in a suburban environment, not Forrest Hills,” Azriel Genachowski said. “If this goes through then everyone who has a one-story building would be out of their mind not to turn their building into an apartment. This would set a precedent and would make it illegal for the village to discriminate against other groups seeking a multi-dwelling permit. The question is what kind of a Great Neck do you want to live in?”

Fox said he was aware that the property was not zoned for multi-dwelling units, and as part of the incentive for the village to allow such a dwelling, GN Properties LLC has offered the village $880,000 in return.

“What the village has to take into account is if we’re happy with what we currently have at that property or if we want to go with something else,” Fox said. “That is the purpose of an incentive to see if its worth it to the village to make this change, and that is why we are holding this hearing to get input from the residents. However nothing has been accepted yet.”

Whitesman said that the comparison to what they have now at the property to the possible complex is irrelevant.

“That property is an embarrassment to our village,” Whitesman said. “If what we’re unhappy with is what we have now, we’re going to be much unhappier in the future with this.”

Susan Whitesman and her husband also asked the village to look at the effects of the ambient light the apartment complex would create.

During the hour and a half of comments an audience member asked about the authority of the board over the village residents.

“If the entire village doesn’t want this, then can you still do this anyway?” asked an audience member.

“Yes,” Fox replied, at which time an audience member shouted out, “that’s horrible,”

Trustee Sidney Krugman quickly jumped in to respond.

“Its not that yes we can, it’s if we should do it,” Krugman said. “Like we said we’re all volunteer members and we live right here in the village and we’re here for you.”

Great Neck Estates attorney A. Thomas Levin said village residents can submit concerns they would like addressed in the impact study for up to 10 days.

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