The Village of Great Neck’s Board of Zoning Appeals postponed reopening a hearing on the site plan for a mixed-use proposal at 733-41 Middle Neck Road on Thursday night.
The proposed structure, which would replace a collection of run-down and vacant storefront on Middle Neck Road and some of North Road, is a four-story mixed-use building that is 44 feet high and features 60 proposed dwelling units, with 56 two-bedroom apartments and four one-bedroom apartments, 93 parking spaces, a recreation center and a public art gallery.
Due to comments made at the village’s Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday night, the zoning board decided to postpone reopening the hearing for the proposed structure’s site plan.
“Based on comments at a recent board of trustees and letters this board has received, we are not moving forward with this public hearing at this time,” legal counsel to the board, Kenneth Gray said Thursday. “Out of an abundance of caution we are asking and directing the applicant, who has agreed, to re-notice for a new public hearing for site plan review before this board to ensure that everyone entitled to notices gets the notices.”
Dennis Grossman, chairman of the village’s zoning board, touted the importance of having residents’ voices being heard on all projects, but especially those of a larger scale, such as the proposal at 733 Middle Neck Road.
“After hearing all the things that we’ve been hearing, we’ve decided to err on the side of the community because this board does a balancing task of the community versus the applicant,” Grossman said. “We’re following that direction and we just want to make sure that everybody gets what they should’ve gotten, and double-check everything.”
The tentative date for the rescheduled site plan hearing is Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m., Gray said.
Village resident Rebecca Rosenblatt Gilliar, who resides within 200-foot of the proposed project, said she was not properly notified of the project by the developer.
“The developer has never sent me a notification,” Gilliar said in a letter to village officials. “In my possession are three of the envelopes in which the developer mailed to my husband notification of meetings/hearings, but not to me. My husband and I co-own the property.”
According to the village’s zoning code, “Before an application for a variance or a conditional, special or other use permit may be heard by the Board of Appeals or the Board of Trustees, a complete and accurate list of the names and addresses of the owners of all the lands within a radius of 200 feet of the property affected by such application shall be submitted simultaneously with the application.”
Gilliar said her husband had envelopes addressed solely in his name from June, September and December 2020. She also expressed her disapproval for the way that Grossman and the zoning board handled the proposal’s evolution.
“The zoning board under chairman Dennis Grossman failed this community,” Gilliar said. “The approval process was slipshod, casual, and indifferent to the wellbeing of the residents who live here.”
Tuesday night’s Board of Trustees meeting was flooded with concerned residents throughout the village, specifically North Road residents, the side street that the proposed unit’s main entrance will be on.
For delivery cars, the plans have a half-circle driveway on North Road. but the proposed height would not be able to accommodate larger delivery trucks. The trucks would have to park on North Road to make deliveries, narrowing the road for residents of the proposed structure and North Road homeowners.
“If you have the horseshoe [driveway] that’s not tall enough to have [trucks] fit underneath, that’s mind-blowing to me,” village resident Sam Yellis said. “You can’t fit deliveries for 60 apartments on one hand truck, it’s not a quick in-and-out.”
North Road resident Jack Ezrahian said he and his neighbors were not properly consulted on the project by the village and called the size and nature of the proposed building in relation to its proximity to residential housing “unheard of” in the village.
“This project is going under the radar, it is going too fast, it is premature,” Ezrahian said. “The permission [for this project] was done way too fast and way too premature.”
The site plan features a ramp to the underground parking lot roughly 30 feet away from 10 North Road, which will be the closest residential property impacted by the project. The proposal has a string of arborvitaes along with a vinyl fence as a buffer between 10 North Road and the proposed project. Farrell said the arborvitaes, which grow at a more rapid pace than normal trees, will be planted at 6 to 8 feet high and will grow to roughly a little over 12 feet once they reach full maturity in a few years.
10 North Road homeowners Mark and Miriam Kordvani expressed concerns over privacy and the visual appeal of the foliage on Tuesday evening.
“I genuinely think that if this building is going to be three to four stories high, there needs to be planting [trees] at a minimum of 20 feet so it can block out some of the view that is going to be looking directly into our backyard where my children play,” Miriam Kordvani said. “I don’t want strangers to be able to look at them, to watch them, to see them whenever they’re outside.”
“I do think that the BZA messed up … they really dropped the ball,” Mark Kordvani said.
Tuesday’s Board of Trustees meeting was only scheduled to discuss the architectural and facade review of the project.
Village Mayor Pedram Bral opted to table to make a decision on the review until the zoning board held a more comprehensive meeting addressing residents’ concerns. Since Thursday’s hearing was postponed, it is unclear what date the Board of Trustees will reconvene to conduct the architectural and facade review for the proposal.