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Long Island

Village amends affordable housing laws as part of settlement

The Maestro, a 94-unit rental complex with 19

The Maestro, a 94-unit rental complex with 19 affordable housing units, at 255 Great Neck Rd. in Great Neck Plaza on May 30, 2014. Photo Credit: Jeremy Bales

Great Neck Plaza officials have begun amending the village’s affordable housing laws in the wake of a federal housing discrimination settlement reached in October.

At a recent board meeting, the village board of trustees conducted a public hearing to change the village’s zoning code in a district encompassing The Maestro, the 94-unit rental complex with 19 affordable housing units.

The Maestro, located at 255 Great Neck Rd., was the subject of a federal lawsuit alleging that the village and the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency violated fair housing laws by denying minorities equal access to affordable housing units. The village settled its portion of the lawsuit in October, paying $200,000 in damages and attorney’s fees, village counsel Richard Gabriele said.

In May 2014, two fair-housing nonprofits — Long Island Housing Services and the Fair Housing Justice Center — claimed that the eligibility criteria for The Maestro favored long-term residents of the predominantly white village, excluding opportunities for minorities and sustaining racial segregation.

As of this week, Great Neck Plaza is in the preliminary stages of eliminating age and residency preferences and will no longer screen potential applicants. Previously, it categorized prospective renters using a tiered system with strict age requirements and residency preferences, such as an age limit of 40 or younger and a primary village residence for at least 10 of the past 15 years.

On Wednesday, the board unanimously adopted a declaration stating that the local law would not have any adverse environmental effects. The hearing was adjourned until Dec. 16, after which the proposed law will be sent to the Nassau County Planning Commission for review.

In early 2016, the village will also hold public hearings to broaden the geographic area where affordable housing can be developed.

There is no “end date” for when the zoning code must be finalized, but the law regarding the Maestro’s zoning district will likely be passed by the end of January, Gabriele said.

There is still pending litigation with the IDA. Joseph Kearney, the IDA’s executive director, declined to comment further on Thursday.

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