Written by Carol Frank Friday, 10 September 2010 00:00
Last Thursday night’s meeting of the Village of Great Neck Board of Zoning Appeals dragged along until after midnight and the ambitious agenda was still not exhausted. The two cases the Record was following were bookends for the evening.
Architect Thomas Fitzsimmons presented a scaled-down revised plan for a parking lot for the United Mashadi Jewish Community. The newest plan would provide 41 parking spaces all on the east side of the property, would have a gravel surface, would retain the 8-foot stockade fence, would be gated and locked when not in use, and would have shielded lighting that would cast light downward, not outward into the neighborhood. Landscaped buffers on both sides would be increased with more evergreens and deciduous trees. Further, access would be given to the park district to service the adjacent tennis facility that they operate. The house on the property would remain and be used as a home for a caretaker.
A discussion ensued regarding traffic, pedestrian drop-off points and how to avoid traffic snarls and dangerous situations for pedestrians and auto drivers alike. Zoning board chairperson Dennis Gross directed the applicant to explore the possibility of creating a drop-off area with pavers toward the entrance of the lot to avoid the temptation of stopping and standing on Potters Lane. He added, “In your plantings, make it denser...try to give a forest look.”
Although neighbors voiced concerns ranging from the “negative effects of a parking lot in a residential zone” to walking and driving safety issues and simmering anger and frustration at the illegal cutting of 51 trees, it was apparent that the board is leaning more favorably toward the project. Chairperson Dennis Grossman reminded the crowd that religious land use laws from state and federal sources limit the ability of a zoning board to turn down such applicants and win if the case is taken to court.
This case will be continued at next month’s meeting on Oct. 7.
The proposal by developer Hooshang Nemat Zadeh to build 10 single-family attached, but staggered dwellings on one merged lot on Steamboat Road encompassing lots 85-93 was discussed. Drawings, depicting the look of the proposed development from Steamboat and Cornelia perspectives, were presented. Another new feature proposed would be a 3-foot setback from Steamboat Road, which would allow space for plantings to soften the facade as well.
Mr. Nemat Zadeh thanked the neighbors for their suggestions at the last meeting and said that he and his architect, Parish Merriweather, had revised their plans taking concerns into account. They also presented the board with a financial feasibility assessment that compares various projects, either allowed or disallowed under the zoning for the area, with projected profits. He stated that if he built something under the current zoning for the area, he would lose $1 million. If he were allowed to build what had been proposed for the site several years ago, he said, “Well, then we would make a lot of money.” The plan under consideration would be financially profitable.
The only neighbor who objected was Elizabeth Allen who stated that the plan for two-family dwellings that was presented several years ago and was eventually turned down by the board would be better for the neighborhood and better financially for the developer. “For the life of me, I don’t know what’s wrong with two-family dwellings in this area...you would be downgrading the area if you allow townhouses.” Chairperson Dennis Grossman begged to differ saying that he thought townhouses would upgrade the area.
The board agreed that Mr. Nemat Zadeh should go ahead with site and drainage plans for the area, a clear indication that they favor the project. Pending a response from the Nassau County Planning Commission, they will appoint themselves lead agency in an environmental review which they anticipate will not be too involved or lengthy. Environmental studies have been done on the property for prior applications and any contamination at the site of the former business there, an exterminating company, has been mitigated.
This case was also continued over to next month’s meeting, Thursday, Oct. 7.