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Mayor of Village of Rockville Centre forms a smart growth committee

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Village Mayor Francis X. Murray has assembled a team of experts to lead the Mayor’s Committee for Smart Growth in Rockville Centre.

Lifelong residents Jeff Greenfield, a former village trustee, and Donna Joyce, current chair of the village planning board, will co-chair the group. Greenfield has also been an active member of the Nassau County Planning Commission since 2002. He has been its vice chairman for 13 years. He brings nearly 40 years of knowledge to the mayor’s new committee; before the county commission, he was on the village’s zoning board of appeals.

“I’m honored that the mayor asked me to co-chair this effort,” Greenfield said. “We have an outstanding zoning code, and I look forward to working with the committee to explore ways we can strengthen our already very good zoning code and laws.”

“We are fortunate to have a lifetime resident with extensive experience on planning on Long Island,” Murray said.

The mayor has also appointed the following Rockville Centre residents to sit on the task force.

Dana Sanneman, executive director of public affairs at Mount Sinai South Nassau, who holds a minor degree in urban planning from NYU

Lawrence Levy, executive dean at Hofstra University

John Cameron, founder and managing partner of Cameron Engineering and Associates

The assembling of the smart growth committee comes after some residents called upon officials to create a village master plan at the Jan. 6 meeting of the village board of trustees.

“It’s great that you saw the importance of what we were trying to do,” said Matt Cliszis, a village resident calling for more clear goals for the village’s future, “and we look forward to seeing the next steps and hear what the goals may be.”

Murray thanked residents for voicing their ideas and concerns at the last meeting.

“Your input is greatly appreciated and needed to preserve our quality of life,” he said.

The smart growth committee will revive efforts of the master plan committee, which stopped meeting early last year. The group was on hiatus awaiting results from urban planning consultants, according to village officials. Specifically, the village hired Buckhorst, Fish & Jacquemart, an urban planning consultant firm, to re-evaluate the downtown area last year.

“We are waiting for the report,” Murray said, “but in the meantime, I think it’s prudent to move forward with reassembling and reconstructing the mayor’s zoning advisory committee.

“We’ll keep the same interested members, while welcoming additional, talented residents,” he continued. “Plans can cost over $100,000. The board wanted to avoid most of the cost if possible.”

Cliszis and Faria Hassan were both members of the master plan committee and will now join the new smart growth committee, they said.

“We’re optimistic that it will be good for the community,” Hassan said. “And we’re happy that the mayor listened to our concerns.”

Hassan noted that she would still “love to see a master plan” that prioritizes features such as green space, walkability and diversification of retail, but as of yet, there are no set goals or priorities for the committee. It is set to have its first meeting sometime in the spring.