If Shop Delight is to succeed in gaining approval from Great Neck Estates of its proposed new supermarket on Middle Neck Road, it’s clear that it will take awhile and it will have to overcome heavy opposition from both Estates residents and Kensington residents.
Not only are the Estates residents, particularly those that live in the 69 unit co-op at 160 Middle Neck, resistant to the idea of a 14,500 square foot market opening in the present Rite Aid location across from the entrance to Kensington, but so are the residents of that village, especially those who live in the 96 apartments at One Kensington Gate (155 Middle Neck).
Adding to the complexity of the situation is the fact that the mayors of both neighboring Kensington and Great Neck Plaza also spoke at the meeting of their concerns over the project’s impact on their own villages.
The residents of 160 Middle Neck (Kenwood Gardens) have actually hired an attorney, Christopher Prior, to help oppose the market. A majority of the residents in both buildings have also signed a petition against the project.
Estates Mayor David A. Fox, who presided over a standing room only initial public hearing last week at Village Hall, has remained emphatic that neither he nor the Board of Trustees has made up their minds about the issue. He also indicated that last week’s hearing was the first of what he anticipated would be many more to address the applicant’s proposal.
Shop Delight (applying under its corporate name, Great Neck Gourmet) made its plans public for the first time through presentations at that meeting by its lawyer, architect and traffic consultant. How long it will take for the many questions raised at the meeting to be answered to the satisfaction of both residents and officials, and how long it will take for an approved conditional use permit to be granted is unknown.
Fox, in making an approved motion to close the hearing and continue public discussion on Jan. 12, stated succinctly, “I think it’s fair and reasonable to give this Board all of the opportunities, as well as the residents, to look at this application in the light of day and understand all of the ramifications that are involved. There are a tremendous amount of issues that are here. The biggest issue…is traffic related, whether it’s parking or whether it’s pedestrian or whether it’s Middle Neck Road…. I’m sure that there will be more issues that will have to be answered.”
Kensington Mayor Susan Lopatkin addressed the board and voiced her village’s apprehension about how the Glatt Kosher market would impact Middle Neck traffic. Lopatkin, the first to speak from the floor after the Shop Delight presentation, said, “There’s no mention of a traffic study on Middle Neck Road and I find that to be suspicious,” she said. “It seems to me with the volume of shoppers that they’re anticipating (an estimated more than 120 shoppers during peak hours) and the volume of trucks going to be coming in and out of this parking lot, that there’s going to be a tremendous increase of volume on Middle Neck Road.”
After she spoke, the audience applauded Lopatkin, many of them from Kensington.
Several other speakers voiced alarm about how deliveries were going to be made, its impact on the municipal lot behind the property and the fact that the lot would somehow have to be reconfigured to facilitate the many trucks making those deliveries. Shop Delight’s traffic consultant Sean Mulryan conceded that six spaces in the municipal lot would be lost but the size of the trucks coming in would be limited.
Bruce Funk, 160 Middle Neck’s co-op president, is optimistic about blocking the Shop Delight project. “The turnout was very, very gratifying to see how many people are concerned with this issue,” he said after the hearing. “I feel that the impact is going to be about the size of the store versus the limitations of parking and how it’s going to impact on the parking situation.”
“They cannot circumvent the situation, with ‘x’ amount of patrons and ‘x’ amount of parking available,” he added. “It’s like putting five pounds of apples in a two pound bag. It just doesn’t fit, no matter what type of logic, no matter what type of maneuvering….”
Mulryan stated that no tractor trailers would be allowed and suggested that one possible solution was for the three tractor trailer deliveries regularly being made now to the Shop Delight on Welwyn Road be partially off loaded there and then transferred by smaller vehicles to the Estates’ location. Plaza Mayor Jean Celender spoke of her worry over what the back-and-forth increased traffic would then do to her village.
There also seemed to be conflict between Shop Delight’s architectural consultant, Mario Vergara, and Mulryan in regard to how tightly the timing of truck deliveries could, in fact, be controlled.