Plaza weighs affordable housing changes

Plaza weighs affordable housing changes

With a number of units unfilled, the Village of Great Neck Plaza Board of Trustees is considering loosening the requirements for applicants to live in a Great Neck Road building constructed under the Plaza’s 2005 affordable housing law. 

The village, which began soliciting applications for the program during the fall, has filled seven of the 19 available units, with the remainder of the program’s 30 applicants either ineligible or withdrawn from consideration.

“We’re trying to attract people into this building that has 19 affordable housing units,” said Village of Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender. “It’s been very difficult.”

The 2005 law set out requirements and priorities for applicants, including residency, profession, age and income standards. The board is considering loosening those standards to fill the vacant units.

“It’s been very difficult given the parameters and how specific they are,” Celender said. “We’re trying to modify this to reflect today’s environment.” 

The apartments are located at 255 Great Neck Road, the site of a new 94-unit doorman building developed by Lalezarian Properties in concert with the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency and the village. 

The affordable rentals, which Celender said are comparable to the development’s market-price units and are spaced throughout the building, are the first offered under a 2005 village law that mandated the placement of workforce housing in new developments in the village’s C-2 zoning district adjacent to the LIRR station.

The program is targeted at middle-income workers who earn between 50 and 100 percent of the median income in Nassau and Suffolk counties. In dollar terms, a family of four is eligible if household income is between $53,750 and $107,500. The program also imposes limits on the total assets of eligible renters.

While village applicants have priority, remaining apartments are also open to first responders, veterans, municipal employees, young residents and senior citizens from the rest of the peninsula. If units are still available, the village will consider eligible applicants from all of Nassau County.

The proposed changes would loosen the age, length of emergency service and residency requirements in order to attract more applicants.

The minimum length of service as a first responder would be reduced from five years to two. The maximum age for eligible young professionals would be raised from 30 to 40 and residency requirements would change from applicants needing to have lived in the area for an uninterrupted period to requiring that applicants spent either 10 of the last 15 or 15 of the last 20 years as residents, depending on their age.

The board also heard a request from representatives of the cellular carrier Metro PCS to install antennas on the roof of a Bond Street condominium building.

The proposal, which is designed to provide clearer phone service to users of the network, has been in the works since 2008 and was the subject of a court case between Metro PCS and the village, said village counsel Richard Gabriel. The board rejected the carrier’s application in 2009 and reached a settlement with Metro PCS four months ago after a lawsuit, according to Gabriel.

The new plan, which calls for the placement of eight antennas on the roof of  12 Bond Street, would be less visible to neighbors, said Metro PCS representative Greg Alvarez.

“All the antennas will be placed within the bulkhead,” Alvarez said. “The ambient noise that is currently on the roof top actually exceeds what would be produced by the facility.”

Alvarez added that the height of the building made it an ideal location for the company’s equipment, and that other wireless carriers had already installed gear on the rooftop.

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