Readers Write: GN taxpayers asked to subsidize Pilot project

The Island Now

I am writing in opposition to a tax waiver/PILOT request to the project covering 733-741 Middle Neck Road.

This project has grown in size from 20 units to 60 units.  It has tripled in size, greatly increasing the impact it will have on the community.  Now that the project has reached its now mammoth size, the developer is claiming that without the granting of this request, the project is not economically feasible.

(Perhaps if the developer included rent-paying retail space on the ground floor, this would become a profitable venture.  The plans for an “Art Gallery” are curious, to say the least.  When pressed on how exactly this “Art Gallery” would work (officially presented as a “benefit to the community”), answers were vague and noncommitted.  Who would curate the art?  Who would have access? What study showed that the community wanted an “Art Gallery” in the first place?  Open basement and roof spaces are equally troubling.  Why are they there?  What future functions will they hold?

Many have argued, of course, that this size project was never feasible at all– on so many levels.

Its impact on its neighbors, its impact on the water table, its impact on the school district, on traffic, garbage and snow removal, and in other ways that will cost the Village thousands of dollars over the next 20 years.

Now the developer is claiming that the economics of the project don’t justify its construction.  Finally, the developer has joined the community in realizing this is a bad deal for everyone–even himself!  If the developer feels that he cannot move forward without this long-term tax relief, I say fine–let him scale the project down to a less ambitious size or sell the property to a developer who is able to make a reasonable project happen.

This is even more important with a potential project of this size.  Its impact will be enormous.  Not just on the neighbors, whose own quality of life and home values, will be severely impacted by the size of this building, but the community as a whole.

Will payments to the Village, in lieu of taxes, help the school district accommodate the extra students this building will bring to our schools?  Will it cover the strain this building puts on our water system, sewer system or the damage incurred as they scrape their foundation, their sub-basement and parking into our water table?

The water table and drainage systems are of particular concern here, I think, based on the developer’s plan to bury his dry wells in the yard of a private home bought for just this purpose.  The world is finally beginning to realize that humans’ impact on the environment is reaching–has reached its limit.  With the recent flooding in Great Neck due to Hurricane Ida, we see locally the need for green space and open ground to absorb rain and runoff.  As this project has increased in size, the amount of cement and steel-covered ground has grown, the amount of open space has been reduced- to zero.

As the project has grown to its current iteration, so has its many impacts on the environment and quality of life in the Village, as well as foreseen costs to the Village, which if this request is granted, will fall upon the taxpayers of Great Neck to subsidize.

Making the good tax-paying citizens of Great Neck subsidize this project would be adding insult to injury, would be patently unfair, and would be, I think, a shortsighted decision.  It would invite more and more of the developers with plans for transforming our Village already going forward to request this way of skirting their responsibility, shifting more and more of the tax burden onto the shoulders of home owners, who have to pay their taxes, who cannot seek this remedy, and who will be impacted negatively by the scale of this project.

Sam Yellis

Great Neck


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