The Village of Great Neck Board of Trustees held a two-and-a-half-hour discussion on a proposed 44-unit apartment complex on 777 Middle Neck Road but adjourned without taking action.
Nearly 40 people packed into the village hall on 61 Baker Hill Road on Tuesday night to hear the second presentation made in front of the board after the initial one was made in September.
The proposed complex consists of 44 units, 13 of which are one-bedroom units, and the other 31 being two or more bedroom units. There will also be 80 parking spaces on the ground floor and below, which include four ADA-handicap accessible spots.
Additionally, in place of a proposed penthouse and pool on the top floor, there will be a rooftop garden instead.
“I think I speak for everyone on the board when I say that we want to see this area revitalized,” Mayor Pedram Bral said to the crowd. “It’s just a matter of what benefits the building would provide for the village.”
The presentation was made by Newman Design’s Director of Architectural Services Brian Newman, and attorney Paul Bloom of Harras, Bloom & Archer LLP. Newman said the structure would be located on the corner of Middle Neck Road and Gutheil Lane adjacent to the old village Department of Public Works facility.
Newman did not disclose the name of the client and was not certain if his client was in full possession of the property title at this time.
One of the main issues that Bral and the board of trustees had with the initial presentation was the exceeding height variance due to the proposed penthouse on top of the building’s fourth floor.
Their most recent proposal eliminated the penthouse, making the structure compliant with the village’s zoning laws.
This presentation featured questions and concerns from residents about the traffic concerns from the surrounding areas such as Gutheil Lane. Residents who live on Gutheil spoke on the impact it would have on their daily commutes.
“Middle Neck [Road] is already congested enough as it is,” one resident said. “We are already burdened with an early commute for our work, and we will now have to compete with at least 50 others each morning. That is ridiculous.”
“They are going to have to wake up at 5:30 in the morning just to get to work on time,” resident Rebbeca Rosenblatt Gilliar said in response to those comments. “Gutheil is just a smidgen wider than a one-way street. It is going to be an unfortunate development for people living on that road.”
Bral acknowledged the narrowness of Gutheil and offered a suggestion for Bloom for a future presentation.
“We understand the effect that residents living in close proximity could be dealing with,” he said. “I suggest that you put together some kind of study that shows the rate of people that will be entering and exiting that building throughout each day of the week.”
Other traffic questions were fielded by Bloom and the board, with residents wondering what measures could be done by the county to prevent more traffic congestion, citing a recent Middle Neck Road traffic study as reference.
Bral spoke on the possibility of a bump out of the curb on Middle Neck Road, which is a traffic calming measure used to extend the sidewalk to provide a shorter and safer crosswalk for pedestrians.
“As I have said in meetings past, I will do my best to speak with the county executives to see what can be done in response to traffic measures,” Bral said.
Bloom countered that point, saying, “I think we could be at it with the county for 15 years before any progress is made, but we are willing to explore options.”
While a majority of residents opposed the development, two younger men praised the idea and were in favor of trying to attract a younger crowd to the area. Resident David Aubrey responded, saying that those two men were not even from the Village of Great Neck.
“I’ve noticed this a lot,” he said. “That, for the most part, when people agree with developments that are in discussion for our village, they tend to not even be from here. I’ve been here long enough to know what streets are located in which village, and those two men are from Kings Point.”
After discussing the proposed complex for over two hours, Bral ended the meeting by making a motion to table the remainder of the agenda for the next board meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 17.
Angered residents abruptly left the village hall close to midnight, having discussed three out of the eight items on the agenda.