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Study recommends Great Neck offer incentives to developers to renew downtown

The village's main business corridor is not living up to its potential, said VHB consultants, who recommend creating an overlay district and adding more housing.

A consulting firm spent more than a year

A consulting firm spent more than a year studying Middle Neck and East Shore roads to determine ways that village officials can boost the area.

Great Neck should offer special incentives to developers who want to open assisted living facilities or affordable housing complexes if village officials hope to attract new residents and fill vacant storefronts, according to a report commissioned to boost the village’s downtown.

The recommendation is among several that Hauppauge-based consulting firm VHB presented Tuesday on how to revitalize Great Neck village. VHB has spent more than a year studying Middle Neck and East Shore roads trying to determine ways that village officials can bolster the area. A final report will be completed later and will include questions and comments from residents, said village clerk Joe Gill.

Ken Schwartz, VHB senior vice president for planning, said Middle Neck Road is Great Neck’s main business corridor but that it is not living up to its potential.

“There’s been limited new residential construction along Middle Neck Road, and there are a significant number of commercial vacancies,” Schwartz said, adding that East Shore Road “has the ability to support additional residences and businesses.”

VHB officials also suggested that Great Neck officials create a new section of the village’s zoning map called the Corridor Incentive Overlay District. In that district, developers who propose assisted living, affordable housing, a ground-level business or a project that somehow improves public infrastructure could build up to five stories as opposed to four stories, which is current village law. Applicants in the district could also get a waiver for certain parking requirements on their proposed project.

The village has been holding public meetings on the study since January and will likely continue taking comments until early March.

Trustees plan to vote Feb. 19 on adopting the recommendations, but Mayor Pedram Bral said there’s a good chance the village will hold off on a decision and take more residents’ comments.

If the village adopts VHB’s recommendations, the firm’s study also notes seven adverse impacts, including “additional solid waste generated” and an increase in “traffic due to the introduction of mixed-use development.”

Some residents who heard VHB’s presentation Tuesday said more development means more traffic, more garbage and more strain on the local school district. One resident said he bought his home on East Shore Road because of the view of Manhasset Bay and now fears that affordable housing that’s five stories high would obstruct his view.

“If the zoning is approved, I’ll be looking at people’s bedroom windows,” said Mark Birnbaum.

Resident Leslie Feldman said the recommendations would be life-altering for her and other village residents.

“If this redevelopment goes through, it’s goodbye, way of life,” Feldman said. “Goodbye, peace and quiet; goodbye, water views; goodbye, pleasant driving; goodbye, clean, unpolluted air; goodbye, beautiful, quiet, scenic and bucolic Great Neck.”

CORRECTION: Joe Gill is the Great Neck Village clerk. An earlier version of this story misidentified the municipality.

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