Plaza eases affordable housing requirements

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The Great Neck Plaza Board of Trustees approved a measure Wednesday night loosening the requirements for applicants seeking to live in the rent-controlled units of a Great Neck Road building constructed under the Plaza’s 2005 affordable housing law.

“It’s just come up in terms of the applications that have been submitted that maybe it’s too restrictive in who we’re trying to attract,” said Village of Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender.

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fall, has filled eight of the 19 available units, with the remainder of the program’s applicants either ineligible or withdrawn from consideration.

Trustee Pamela Marksheid said the village did not initially anticipate having 19 affordable units – the village mandated nine such dwellings, while terms from the Nassau Industrial development agency required another 10 units.

“We didn’t quite expect to have so many apartments to fill,” Marksheid said.

Village attorney Richard Gabriele said the Nassau County Planning Commission had cleared the village to decide the matter in a March 14 ruling.

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 LIRR-adjacent C-2 zoning district.

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 saw another presentation from developer and Great Neck Chamber of Commerce president Hooshang Nematzadeh of his proposed mixed-use building on Grace Avenue.

The project has undergone multiple revisions to address board concerns about requested variances to the building’s height, number of parking spaces and location of apartments.

The updated plan, which was met with encouragement by trustees, eliminates first-floor residential units in accordance with board concerns and reduces the height to a code-compliant 35 feet.

“We met with Hooshang in the interim and he’s presented some revisions based on our concerns,” said Celender. “I think we’re getting more to a mixture of residential and retail that’s closer to what the village wanted there.”

“I’m very happy with the changes,” Marksheid said.

Also at the meeting, Trustees Gerald Schneiderman and Lawrence Katz were sworn in following their uncontested election victories earlier this month.

Schneiderman announced that he will be selling his house to move into a smaller home, but pledged that he would remain in the Plaza to serve his term.

“I will be in Great Neck Plaza and I will be here for the next two years,” Schneiderman said.

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