GLEN COVE PLANNING BOARD APPROVES DEVELOPER'S CHANGES TO GARVIES POINT PLANS AS AUDIENCE PROTESTS DECISION
By T. Madden, Northwordnew.com
October 6, 2015 -- Amidst calls of “no” from audience members in the packed city council meeting room as the roll call vote was taken, the City of Glen Cove Planning Board this past Tuesday evening, by a 6 to 1 count, agreed to approve a developer's application to amend a previously approved proposal to build a planned mixed use community known as Garvies Point on a 56 acre site and former brownfield along the northern waterfront of Glen Cove creek. The amended plan eliminates a hotel and convention center from the original proposal that had been approved in December 2011, but increases the number of housing units from 860 to 1100 - most being located in a 125 foot tall, 11 story, 730,400 square foot high rise on the western edge of Glen Cove Creek, adjacent to the Hempstead Harbor Yacht Club and across from Sea Cliff. The remaining units would be in a five story structure, totaling more than 500,000 square feet, located further east. Along with the retail space, restaurant, and amenities the total square footage for the development will total 1.7 to 1.8 million square feet.
Residents from Glen Cove, Sea Cliff and other neighboring communities attended the meeting, with many standing along side and behind the approximately 100 residents seated in the chamber. And although the public hearing on the application had been closed since last month and the decision appeared to be a foregone conclusion based on the resolution that had been posted on the City’s website two and a half hours before the meeting, Planning Board Chairman Tom Scott offered representatives from Sea Cliff and Glen Cove the opportunity to comment for ten minutes before the vote was taken.
In the resolution adopted Tuesday night, the Planning Board indicated that it agreed with findings of the Glen Cove Industrial Development and Community Development Agencies, respectively, as well as the assertions made in a presentation to the board in late July by the real estate developer RXR, that the amended Garvies Point proposal is an improvement over the original as it would reduce the overall square footage of the buildings, create more green space and be more environmentally friendly while at the same time being more economically viable.
Earlier in the evening at the City Council pre-meeting conference held upstairs at City Hall, Glen Cove Mayor Reginald Spinello said that he anticipated the City receiving $3.5 million for the sale of the waterfront property which would be used to balance the 2016 budget and to keep the tax rate for residents (but not businesses) in check for the upcoming year. Additionally, he stated that he expected that the city would have to borrow $15 million for improvements to the road accessing the new development.
Downstairs, at the Planning Board meeting, Sea Cliff Mayor Bruce Kennedy was the first to address the board. He commented that he was unaware of any development on Long Island of such scale as the Garvies Point proposal, and that it was completely inconsistent with the character of the North Shore. “It will stick out like a sore thumb,” he said, and that its location “impacts the Village of Sea Cliff the most.” Repeating some of the objections that he had presented to the Planning Board last month, he stated that a Supplemental Environmental Impact Study (SEIS) ought to be conducted to address issues that had not been addressed in the original impact statement (see article to the right).
Perhaps most emphatically, Mr. Kennedy asserted that the City of Glen Cove had not followed the procedures and agreements that are outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the City of Glen Cove and Sea Cliff Village Mayors back in 2000 that forestalled a lawsuit initiated by the Village against the City. He stated that he had been made aware of the "legally binding" agreement in August, and immediately presented it to the Mayor of Glen Cove.
The MOU, among other things, limits the total square footage of the Glen Cove Creek redevelopment to 700,000 square feet, below the proposed 1.7 - 1.8 million square feet approved in the amended plan, restricts the height of the buildings to the then-current zoning height guidelines of five stories, and provides for the creation of a Glen Cove Creek Redevelopment Commission, made up of two representatives from Sea Cliff (one of whom would be the Mayor and a second a Village Board trustee), two from an organization known as the North Shore Environmental Alliance, and another two from the City of Glen Cove. The commission, according to the MOU, would be given the opportunity to review documents related to any proposed development along the creek and to offer its input to the Industrial Development Agency.
"It is my intention to enforce the MOU in every way we possibly can," the Sea Cliff Mayor said. Later, after the meeting had ended, he said that the Village would pursue litigation "if that is something the residents would support," and continued that it would be advantageous if surrounding municipalities that would also be negatively impacted by the development joined together in such action.
In the approval resolution adopted Tuesday night, but prepared before the Mayor’s comments, the Planning Board maintained that the MOU was irrelevant on the grounds that the Village had not previously invoked the agreement. During the period 2008 to 2014, the document reads, “the Village did not previously submit the 2000 MOU to the Planning Board, or otherwise cite the MOU throughout the entire PUD (Planned Unit Development) Master Development Plan and PUD Site Plan/Subdivision reviews."
As he concluded his comments to the Board, Mayor Kennedy yielded the remainder of his time to Sea Cliff resident Amy Marion who over the last week had initiated a petition drive through Change.org as well as a letter writing campaign expressing opposition to the proposed development. Many of the audience members held copies of the letter, printed on green paper, during the meeting. More than 400 area residents participated in the letter writing and petition effort.
Ms. Marion asserted that the proposal the board was considering was inconsistent with the City’s Master Plan, and that it would be especially harmful to Sea Cliff, not only with an 11 to12 story tower looming over the western end of Glen Cove Creek, but that the restaurant, retail space and parking included in the plan would create considerable light pollution as well as traffic. She said she recognized the importance of developing the site and that “none of us is against developing this area,” but that the residents of both Sea Cliff and Glen Cove wanted development along the creek that is good for both communities.
Glen Cove resident Grace Slezak then spoke. Decrying the development that has taken place in Glen Cove over the past several years, she said the City is “sowing the seeds of its self-destruction by approving one oversized development after another” and asked the audience to approve a resolution she had written limiting new development adjacent to residences to two stories and for those further away to three stories. Several in the audience offered an enthusiastic “yes!” She continued that the development was completely inconsistent with the recommendations of the City’s master plan, the goal of which is “to protect the established character of the city, to reduce traffic and congestion, and to promote protection and enhancement of the environment.” RXR’s proposal, she said, “is the antithesis of the city’s own master plan.”
A Shore Road resident who lives directly across from the proposed development then approached the dais and pleaded with Mr. Scott to allow him to address the board - a request the Chairman granted but limited to one minute. The gentleman said he thought it was worth it for Glen Cove residents to have to pay higher taxes than to allow the development to move forward. “We have to think of the future impact that this is going to have,” he said.
The Chairman then turned the floor over to special counsel Brad Schwartz who had been retained by the Board for this particular project. He reminded the audience that the Planning Board was considering amendments to a plan that had already been approved three and a half years earlier. He said that he believed the earlier environmental impact statement on which the 2011 approval was based adequately addressed the issues that had been raised by the speakers thus making a supplemental environmental statement unnecessary. He repeated many of the points made in the resolution that had been posted on the Planning Board website, in particular that the amended proposal was preferable to the existing approved plan, as it has improved “view corridors,” and that while the most westerly building is significantly larger than the one in the original plan, it has been shifted 60 feet to the east and the overall square footage of the entire development has been reduced by 22% - from 2.2 to 1.8 million square feet.
The exchange that had begun civilly turned considerably less so after Mr. Scott announced that the comment period was over and that a vote would be held later in the meeting. As a clamor arose from the audience, the Chairman reminded the audience that over the past five years many public hearing had been held enabling area residents to offer their opinions, and that “for someone to say that they do not know what is going on, is hard to believe.” He then called for a roll call vote on the resolution, and as each member of the board spoke “aye,” calls of “no” and “boo” emanated from members of the audience only to be interrupted temporarily by a nearly 30 second long ovation when Planning Board member John Perrone cast the lone “no” vote.
The initial orderliness of the proceedings disintegrated further after the vote, as audience members lined up at the public comment lectern to make points, and Mr. Scott called on a police officer to remove a woman from the chamber after she had begun speaking.
A gentleman then rose, and addressed the audience, “There’s a consequence coming up for those up for election.” he said. “You guys know what to do on Election Day - punish them!”
“One thing we’re not going to do tonight,” Mr. Scott replied, “is politicize this meeting.”
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SC MAYOR EXPRESSES CONCERNS OVER GARVIES POINT PROJECT AT GC PLANNING BOARD MEETING
(September 18, 2015)
DEVELOPER SEEKS APPROVAL FOR CHANGE OF GARVIES POINT PLANS WITH LARGER 12 STORY BUILDING ACROSS FROM SEA CLIFF (July 25, 2015)
SC MAYOR EXPRESSES CONCERNS OVER GARVIES POINT PROJECT AT GC PLANNING BOARD MEETING
The documents accompanying RXR's application for approval of its amended master plan for Garvies Point /Glen Isle can be found by CLICKING HERE. RXR's Glen Isle website which offers a general overview of the project can be found HERE.
THE APPROVED PROPOSAL AND THE AMENDED PROPOSAL
The left image shows the Glen Isle project as approved by the Glen Cove Planning Board in 2012. The right shows the amended proposal that was approved this past Tuesday night.