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Another Bid to Develop a Steep Ravined Parcel of Land Behind Old Mill Road

A new proposed plan to sub-divide and develop a 3.1-acre land-locked parcel tucked behind Old Mill Road and Middle Neck Road that requires a private road running from Clover Drive in Great Neck Estates is before the Village of Great Neck’s Board of Zoning Appeals.

Attorney Paul Bloom, representing Frank Lalezarian, stated that the applicant has abandoned his 2006 plan for multifamily apartment buildings in the residential zone and instead is proposing to build 11 houses in the Village of Great Neck ranging in size from 8,000 square feet to 15,000 square feet.

Mr. Bloom called the variances requested “de minimus.” None of the 11 lots would have frontage on a public street and two of the lots do not meet dimensional requirements.

He stated that in order to build the homes on the property, that has topography elevations that drop 25 to 30 feet to a county-maintained culvert that runs through the property paralleling Old Mill Road and feeding eventually into Udall’s Pond, “substantial earthwork, tiered retaining walls” for a total of 16 feet in height would be required.

He added that many trees would be cut down, but joked, “We’ll cut down trees, but we haven’t done it yet” alluding to the 2 Potters Lane case. This statement elicited chuckles from some zoning board members and groans from the audience. He said that the planners have not calculated exactly how many trees would come down, but certainly any in the proposed roadway, within the footprints of the houses and the entire center portion of the parcel, could not be saved. Mr. Bloom stated that if someone wanted to preserve the area as a green space, Mr. Lalezarian would entertain offers.

The Village of Great Neck Estates has not been formally approached yet to determine if they would cede permission for a road to be constructed on a property in the Estates on Clover that is owned by Mr. Lalezarian. Under this plan, he would raze the existing structure, build a road through it and construct a new house on the property at 100 Clover Drive.

(Note: When a proposal was first brought to the community to rezone the parcel for multifamily housing, the Record walked the property with Mr. Lalezarian. He pointed out the 100 Clover Drive house which he owned with the deep back yard that extends into the Old Village. At that time, he told us and we reported that he “had no intention of attempting to use that land for another road into the proposed complex.”)

Mr. Bloom said that the process of obtaining approvals would be a lengthy one as the applicant would need to go before many boards including the Village of Great Neck’s planning board and architectural review board and the Nassau County Planning Commission.

The proposal would create a homeowners association that would be responsible for maintaining the roadway with catch basins to minimize runoff. The Water Authority of Great Neck North and the Water Pollution Control District would need to provide hook-ups for the private road for fresh and waste water connections.

A host of residents from the Village of Great Neck Estates and Saddle Rock Estates, an unincorporated area, expressed concerns about runoffs and flooding in the area if it is destabilized by the massive earthwork required. A letter was read into the record from the Stoller family of Old Mill Road requesting that the zoning board require full studies of potential negative environmental impacts such as pollution, congestion, and traffic. The letter stated that while communities evolve... “we look to our elected officials to make sure that they evolve to protect the quality of life.”

Jonathan Spielman, a taxpayer in the villages of Great Neck and Great Neck Estates, stated that in 2006, there were floods in the area and that there were sewage backups that cost him $20,000 and a great deal of grief to correct. He said that his backyard gets flooded when it rains and that he and his wife live in constant fear that there will be another problem with the sewer line. He also stated that he is the beneficiary of a covenant established between the former owner of his property and the former owner of the 100 Clover Road property that gives his property the right of first refusal if the property at the rear of 100 Clover was ever up for sale. He said that Mr. Lalezarian has been unresponsive to his calls on the matter.

Chairman Dennis Grossman stated that the zoning board does not get involved in private disputes.

Ms. Speilman told the Record that if the current proposal goes through, three new houses would abut her property line.

Azriel Genachowski, who lives in Great Neck Estates, said that even medium rains in the area make for a “lake-like” effect causing many residents to install sump pumps. He added that Mr. Lalezarian is a businessman who knew full well that there was no access to the property when he bought it along with the land for the Versailles Court. “He gambled on it..he took a risk and when you do, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. I don’t see why he should get all these variances and do all this damage to the people living around.”

Mayor Ralph Kreitzman rose to inform the gathering that a meeting is scheduled this week to address the plans being formulated by Nassau County in conjunction with Nelson & Pope engineering firm to improve the drainage in the area. Work is scheduled to commence in 2011.

The next meeting of the Village of Great Neck Board of Zoning Appeals will be held on Thursday, July 1 at 7:30 at village hall. There will be further discussions of the application at that time. Call the Village of Great Neck at 482-0019 to confirm whether it is definitely on the agenda as there are sometimes last minute changes and the village does not post agendas online.