Leslie Feldman walked into Great Neck Village Hall on Tuesday, March 19, with a sign taped to the front of her shirt. “Abandon the Plan,” the sign said, in thick black marker.
To her, and many other disgruntled residents’ pleasant surprise, the demand of outright abandonment was fulfilled that night by Mayor Pedram Bral.
“The legislation as it was written is dead,” Bral said, referring to a controversial proposed amendment to the zoning code that would give the village the ability to grant developers limited relief from current zoning restrictions.
The now withdrawn proposal would have allowed developers to build as many as four stories for ground-floor commercial buildings and as many as five stories for assisted-living facilities, in order to “revitalize” Middle Neck and East Shore roads through development.
“Obviously the public has concerns about the legislation and the way it is being presented,” Bral said.
In announcing the formal withdrawal of the proposed amendment to the zoning code, the mayor also announced that he and the board of trustees will start having town hall meetings to gather more community input before attempting to take action again.
The mayor announced that there will be a village town hall, so the community can provide their “input” on the issue of revitalization and what actions should be taken.
The meeting will be held on April 8 at 7:30 p.m. at Great Neck House at 14 Arrandale Ave.
“I’m hoping to start having these meetings extended to a town hall meeting and focus group meetings on different dates and in a larger place,” Bral said. “We are [going to be] taking input. We all do believe that we need to take some actions toward the revitalization of Middle Neck Road. There are stores that are in desperate need.”
The mayor encouraged all residents to come to the meeting on April 8. “Everyone’s invited,” he said.
Many residents, like Leslie Feldman, viewed the revoking of the proposed legislation as an achievement.
“We accomplished what we wanted to accomplish, which is preventing Great Neck from becoming a big, noisy, dirty metropolis,” Feldman said.
The mayor also said that there are currently Nassau County traffic studies of Middle Neck Road, which may help inform the village trustees about the best ways to address the revitalization issue.
“Cameras are collecting data to find out how we can best address some of these traffic issues on Middle Neck Road. I have asked for these studies to continue, and [for] East Shore Road to be part of those studies.”
A new traffic study, conducted by the county, is a positive for many who had opposed the legislation.
The previous “revitalization” plan relied on a highly scrutinized traffic study from VHB, the consulting firm commissioned by the village to conduct a study of the corridors.
Opponents to the now-withdrawn legislation cited how it relied on the VHB traffic study that used data from 2013 and only examined “a very limited proportion of the roadways as opposed to the entirety of Great Neck village,” according to James Wu, a village resident.
In addition to the revoking of legislation, the time to prepare the Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement, or FGEIS, is being extended. The FGEIS would have detailed the predicted environmental effects of development.
“There is no current effort being made to work on the final GEIS. All of this is going to be revisited,” Bob Barbach, former superintendent of the Building Department, said.
Those who supported the revitalization plan will now, unfortunately, have to wait until the new community input process has concluded and new legislation is prepared.
Yet for many residents, and most of those who attend the village meetings, the mayor’s five words after voting to withdraw the legislation captured, perhaps cynically, a feeling of civic satisfaction: “The legislation is dead. Congratulations.”