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Long IslandTowns

Great Neck leaders hire consultant to review housing proposal

Several community members voiced their support of the

Several community members voiced their support of the Academy Gardens Tenants Association, at a Great Neck Planning Board meeting on Feb. 20, 2014. The association is made up of residents who are potentially being forced out of their homes. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The Village of Great Neck's Planning Board has authorized an independent study of a developer's plan to demolish a rent-stabilized housing complex to make way for market-rate housing.

Kings Point Gate Associates wants to build 62 condominiums to replace the Middle Neck Road housing complex known as Academy Gardens.

Planning board chairman Charles Segal said the board must "look into engaging an independent entity . . . for the purposes of inquiring into the disparate impact of protected classes of the outcome of this application."

Angry tenants and their supporters at a meeting Thursday sharply criticized the plan, saying it would drive minority families out of the village.

Tenants packed the hearing, holding signs that demanded the demolition be denied.

As the hearing closed, an official threatened to have authorities remove an upset woman. It did not come to that.

Paul Bloom, attorney for the developer, said the board was "just delaying the inevitable."

Tenants have been offered taxable payments of $100,000 to $125,000 to leave; however, they have not secured spots in the new condo or promises they could find affordable housing in Great Neck, the tenants' attorney Fred Pollack has said.

"I don't have to cure a problem. I have to give you mitigation," Bloom told the board.

Raymond Iryami, a planning board member, urged the board to further study the issue, leading to a 5-0 vote on Thursday to authorize the study. "We have an obligation to make sure that our actions don't have a disparate impact on racial minorities," he told those in attendance, to applause.

Representatives for the developer have said the owner planned to comply with all legal requirements. George Shea, spokesman for Kings Point Gate Associates LLC, wrote in an email: "It is unfortunate that an as-of-right residential development has been turned into a socio-economic issue. Kings Point Gate Associates will respect the process and looks forward to advancing the project."

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