Readers Write: Don’t drink from the developer’s Kool-Aid

The Island Now

This letter is dedicated to millennials and Long Island homeowners who demand truth about responsible development.

A false statement circulated 10,000 times on social media is still a false statement.

Filling your head with false information and knowing that young people will go on social media to circulate a pro-developer agenda is a serious form of manipulation possibly orchestrated by a desperate mayor and his deputy mayor.  These tactics appear to be part of a larger pattern of behavior disseminating false information to the uninformed public.  Misleading statements made at village meetings have appeared in print in this fine newspaper.

Propaganda aside, a smartly designed, four-story, rental building plunked into the wrong location is still the wrong construction for that location.  Recently, a millennial complained, “perfectly reasonable construction of brand-new buildings is being prevented by…”  I’d like to suggest there is nothing reasonable about green-lighting an inappropriate construction for any given location.  Successful urban planning is about:  location, location, location.

Should a gynecologist with no urban planning background, someone who disempowered both his zoning board and planning board, be in sole control over future development decisions that could impact your home value?  By reversing the approval process, the mayor first approves most everything, then sends the approved project to his boards (with narrow parameters), effectively tying their hands and limiting their veto power. The chairmen of both boards are believed to be better qualified to evaluate new construction.

As the mayor appears to be pressuring the millennials, it would seem the developers are pressuring the mayor.

Not every proposal deserves to be green-lighted.  But with rare exception, it is and therein lies the problem.  If the mayor could be relied on to “Vote No” when it is clearly warranted, then a “handful” of 1,400 residents wouldn’t have to participate in standing-room-only, filled to capacity public hearings until midnight.

Responsible urban planning works towards positivity for a diverse population – a process this village rarely respects.

What about traffic, traffic, traffic?  Is there anyone who disagrees that Middle Neck Road and East Shore Road are impossible to navigate past 2:30 in the afternoon?  How can additional multi-story construction on Middle Neck Road be the solution?

What about integrity?  Did Mayor Bral forget to mention he authorized a traffic study for questionable new construction on MNR in June when there were few vehicles on the road due to coronavirus

Funny thing about Village of Great Neck government:  no matter the absurdly oversized project approved, the environmental impact statement THEY control always concludes:  No impact to traffic, no impact to population, no impact to water…

Ironically, the most ardent supporters of change are residents with little or no history of attendance at village meetings.  There is no substitute for the wealth of information available to residents by attending twice-monthly Tuesday night meetings at 7:30 p.m.

Thankfully, board of trustees meetings, which are decidedly unsexy and often uninteresting, are attended by a core of concerned residents.  It is at these meetings that a project’s fire and safety hazards are identified, insufficient parking and multiple red flags are raised.  The “selfish people” referred to in a Sept. 8 Opinion letter represent 1,400-plus concerned residents. Their actions are the very opposite of selfish.

It takes selflessness to care so much about the future of your community that you sacrifice three to five hours per night — attending multiple Stop Rezoning & Revitalization Public Hearings (2019) — sometimes until midnight — in Village Hall’s most uncomfortable and antiquated wooden chairs.

Selfless residents act as unpaid village watchdogs.  Residents ask the tough questions that our mayor should be asking developers – but never will.

Since the pandemic, public board of trustees meetings, zoning board meetings and planning board meetings have been available on Zoom.  Have you been attending?  Do you watch until the bitter end on a Tuesday or Thursday night to learn firsthand what plans are being presented to your community?  This newspaper’s most frequent contributors to the Opinion column are those residents who attend regularly and are the best informed.

Summary:  In the past 4 ½ years of attendance at village meetings, I have rarely heard the mayor and board apply rigid criteria for approval of new sub-divisions and multi-story construction.  Instead, most every proposal receives blanket approval, despite poor location, a myriad of unanswered questions and endless red flags indicative of serious issues.

Responsible urban planning would be welcome by most taxpayers.  Over-development that will sell out our community and worsen existing problems is not.


Judy Shore Rosenthal

Great Neck


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