The North Shore village of Great Neck was once home to the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the United Nations, and filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. But in recent years, the village has had to deal with such low class issues as serial bed intruders, anti-Semitic graffiti vandals, and SAT cheaters. But don't let that make you think the village doesn't still have some standards: the board of Great Neck passed a law this week which makes it a criminal offense to use a clothesline in front of your home.
"The board doesn't think it's appropriate behavior to hang your wash in your front lawn," Mayor Ralph Kreitzman said before the meeting. "We don't think it's the right thing for people to do in an attractive village such as ours." The law prohibits clotheslines in front yards and closer than 10 feet to any property line, and carries a maximum $1,000 fine, 15 days in jail or both. But since they're not unreasonable laundry Nazis, backyard clotheslines are still legal.
The "attractive" village has actually banned clotheslines before (in 2002), but overturned that ban six years later after, in the words of Newsday, "protests from impromptu laundry-rights activists." As for why the ban was brought about again now: Building Department Superintendent Norman Nemec claims he received at least one complaint about the issue last spring (repeat: AT LEAST one, which could mean there were actually HUNDREDS). When he went to check it out, he was horrified to discover a rack "for lingerie." The monocle factory must have gotten a lot of orders that day.
"The last thing you want to see every day when you open the front door is somebody's underwear," said a permanently scarred Nemec. Elizabeth Allen, a "proud owner" of a backyard clothesline, doesn't get the big deal: "I just wonder what is so offensive about clotheslines?" Trustee Jeffrey Bass nailed it with his response about the "standards" of the village: "Frankly, I think it's rather disconcerting for people to come into a neighborhood and view in the front lawn of someone's home various articles of clothing, undergarments, what have you, flapping in the breeze," he said.
Of course, we're talking about a village that has already instilled a 15-day jail penalty for smoking on the sidewalks. At least they have their priorities in order for their next meeting: living-room couches on the front porch. "I just think it's one of those things that adds to the shabbiness," said Trustee Barton Sobel.