Readers Write: IDA should deny developer tax relief in GN project

The Island Now

re: Nassau County Industrial Development Agency meeting on PILOT request for 733-741 Middle Neck Road

At your meeting in the Village of Great Neck on Sept. 13, 2021, there were only a few residents in attendance in a village whose population is 11,000. The low turnout is evidence of poor notification to a population exhausted by the pandemic. So our few voices have to stand for many.

In his written application to your agency for a 22-year PILOT, the applicant omitted mention of 7 Hicks Lane. He included 733-741 Middle Neck Road and the two plots on North Road, (No. 6 and No. 8), so it is not as if this information has outsized complexity. Yet he excluded 7 Hicks Lane. This is what would be politely called an untruth. Impolitely, it is a deception. Deceit discovered implies deceits still hidden.

The developer’s personal arrangement with 7 Hicks Lane, a parcel with a single residential home, gives him the unbelievable privilege of situating the drywall for his four-story building in the private homeowner’s rear yard. Freed of the need to make space on his own land for his drywall, the developer can be greedy: He can use all his available space to build.

This is a rare application in my experience. Usually, applicants ask to build 12 homes where, realistically, they hope for BZA permission to build eight, as a compromise where there should be six In the case of 733-741 Middle Neck Road, the applicant first asked to build 20 apartments, but over time he revised the request, enlarging it each time until it reached its current mega-number of 60 units with no suburban greenery to make it, well, part of a suburb that consists primarily of private homes.

With each iteration, each enlargement of the number of rental units, the developer decreased the number of on-site parking spaces, and to make matters worse that parking is underground—on a small peninsula whose water table is surprisingly near the surface. A project a block away during excavation reached water.

The decision to allow the developer a four-story building (with an additional 10 feet atop) in contravention of the zoning code was not yours. To allow the drywall to be placed off-site in a neighboring rear yard was not of your making. The decision to allow the four-story building within 15 feet of No. 10 North Road, to loom over a private home wherein dwells a young couple with a small child—that decision, too, was not made by you.

Even the decision on the deleterious impact of a 60-unit apartment building on the local infrastructure, that predates you.

There are other ways in which this project is not of your doing, both of which are particularly offensive. One is the inevitable over-pumping of our wells that has already begun to bring saltwater intrusion to our peninsula’s sole source of fresh drinking water. The other is the slapdash, irresponsible manner of the monthly mailings of the developer’s notices to residents of the hearing on this project at the BZA.

The lists of those residents to whom the notices were mailed show the mailings were in violation of the village code that specifies all homeowners within a specified radius. The developer skipped some addresses, and where a husband and wife co-own the property, the developer did not bother to notify the wife. In truth, the hearing on this application for this project was conducted illegally, given the failure of the notification process.

So much preceded your receiving this application.

The rooftop, for one thing. The applicant originally had unspecified intentions for that space to hold gatherings. The so-called art gallery for another. The art gallery absorbs 10 percent of the building. You would think if the developer needs a grand handout on his taxes, he would be making sure that that ground-floor space earns its keep. On the other hand, if it were presented to you as an earning space, that might doom the PILOT application.

The problem with covenants on properties, and PILOTs, is that in a few years who will remember the details. The rooftop will host who-knows-what. The ambiguous art gallery will transform into who-knows-what. That would not be OK in the aftermath of an unhealthy tax bailout afforded to a developer who was unable to resist the possibility that he could make a maximum profit with a minimum of responsibility, but who-knows-what would be unencumbered by memory.

This project deserves to pay for itself.

Let the developer move forward without a PILOT because, for example, he kicked out the shoemaker from his Middle Neck Road storefront last year. As we residents travel to where our village’s shoemaker has moved, we realize the services of the shoemaker represent the core reason why a village has a main road of shops.

It should go without saying that were you to grant this project a PILOT, the tax shortfall, in the long run, would accrue to the residents of private homes here for the inevitable increased demands on all aspects of the infrastructure by this building.

It should also go without saying that were you to approve this PILOT application, it will inspire other unworthy PILOT requests to come knocking at your door.


  1. As I wrote earlier in this letter, the IDA did not author the many irregularities that attended the BZA process, but if you grant this project any manner of PILOT you join what has gone before.
  2. This applicant has no relevant hardship.

Rebecca Rosenblatt Gilliar

Great Neck

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