Plandome Heights eyes signage at village traffic island

Amelia Camurati
Flow of traffic around a rotary triangle at Plandone Road and Plandome Court North has been discussed as the past two Village of Plandome Heights board of trustees meetings. (Photo courtesy Google)

The Village of Plandome Heights may get a solution to a problem it did not know about.

During the July meeting, village resident Kathy McIntee came to the board with a complaint: the inability to see around an overgrown shrub planted on a traffic island on Plandome Court North at Plandome Road. The island also has a flag pole and boulder near the center.

“When you pull out at Plandome Court, there are the two ways to pull out, it’s like a ‘v,'” McIntee said. “The problem is, it’s not a big triangle, and the shrubs are very big and at the end, so it requires that you pull your car definitely into the oncoming traffic lane to be able to see the traffic from the Port Washington side.”

McIntee said she and the rest of her neighbors use the right side of the triangle for right turns and the left side for left turns. There is no striping on Plandome Court North.

During the July meeting, Trustees Norman Taylor and Gus Panopoulos questioned whether this traffic pattern was illegal, and trustees tabled the discussion until they could research the situation.

Mayor Kenneth Riscica agreed that the bush was overgrown, and Taylor has since trimmed the shrub “because the landscaper didn’t come in a reasonable period of time,” Riscica said.

As for the traffic pattern, Riscica said at the board meeting on Monday that he and village Clerk Arlene Drucker made multiple visits to the site since July with Nassau County police officers and determined that legally, traffic should flow to the right of the triangle, no matter which direction the vehicle is turning onto Plandome Road.

According to New York’s vehicle and traffic laws, “a vehicle passing around a rotary traffic island shall be driven only to the right of such island unless otherwise indicated by traffic
control devices.”

Signs similar to this are posted near many traffic islands in the Town of North Hempstead indicating traffic should keep right around the island.

“As you travel around Manhasset and look at the traffic islands that exist, many if not most of them have a sign not dissimilar to the sign in your package with an arrow signaling to go right or a sign that says keep right,” Riscica said.

Riscica asked trustees if they thought this was an issue the village should get involved with or let slide, and Trustees Dianne Sheehan, Taylor and Panopoulos agreed the village’s “hand has been forced” to addressing the traffic flow.

“I personally think since someone from the village brought it up, we have it documented in our minutes, I think we need a sign,” Sheehan said. “You cannot let it go.”

Panopoulos and Taylor agreed, and Riscica said it was a “head-on collision waiting to happen” if a school bus or large truck tried to turn right onto Plandome Court North as someone was turning left from the lefthand side of the triangle.

McIntee was not present at the Monday meeting but made it clear in July she was not looking for a new way to turn left onto Plandome Road.

“I’m not looking for a traffic reroute. We all live there, that’s how it is, and we all like it,” McIntee said. “I’m just looking for visibility, not a reroute.”

Village Attorney Christopher Prior said a sign directing traffic to the right could be approved by a board resolution, but Riscica wanted to delay any vote until the September meeting so any residents interested in the issue could attend.

“Local government is about doing local things, and you do it in the open and transparently. If you feel a sensitivity, you address the sensitivity,” Riscica said. “Despite what we’re saying from a liability and exposure point of view here, the situation’s been that way since there was a village.”

Riscica said, however, this meeting would be a regular business meeting and not a public hearing. Usually on the first Monday of the month, the September meeting will be moved to the second Monday, Sept. 11, because of Labor Day.

“My mind’s not going to change at a public hearing,” Panopoulos said. “The police said, by law, you have to bear right, so I say, that’s what the law states. Nobody’s going to convince me at a public hearing to change my mind.”

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