A number of residents showed up at a public hearing last week to voice their concerns and get their questions answered regarding the proposed housing development subdivision on the Glen Cove Mansion property. The Glen Cove Planning Board continued its review of the site plan for the 40 single-family attached luxury residences on 22.9 acres of the 55-acre property. The board listened to the changes made to the plan by the applicant since the last hearing two weeks earlier, on Feb. 6, and allowed the public to ask further questions. No vote was taken at this meeting, as chairman Thomas Scott noted the board needed time to deliberate and consider the public’s concerns—which centered around traffic, sewage and aesthetics.
“I appreciate being a part of Glen Cove and my team and I have done our best to preserve the mansion since the very beginning and we will continue to do so, because it’s truly beautiful and special,” said Willy Wang, who has owned the property since December 2014. “At the last meeting, and after the meeting, we have listened to the community and worked hard to adjust the plans. Everyone knows the [project] was approved in 2013. But I hope everyone knows we’ve made improvements to the design, more than what was required, including the landscaping, working hours and the mansion’s preservation.”
Wang noted that the mansion employs 96 people, most of whom live in Glen Cove, and that it is “one of the biggest taxpayers” in the city. He said the development project will allow him to continue to “restore the facilities and preserve its historic and special character.”
“Glen Cove is not only a place of business for me, but has become a second home,” said Wang. “I hope to build a future with the community and try do something special.”
In 2013, the property was rezoned from a residence district to an “estate preservation floating zone district.” Attorney Kathleen Deegan Dickson noted that the rezoning was approved nearly five years ago and explained that it is the final subdivision that is being reviewed now.
“Back in 2013, the City Council approved the estate preserve overlay district for this property,” she said. “At that time, it was deemed that 33 acres were worth preservation and the 22.9 acres were less worthy of preservation because they didn’t contribute to the historical and cultural significance of this property. The other 33 acres can never be developed—it will forever be preserved as a mansion.”
Dickson said the project is exactly the same as in 2013, except that the primary access has changed to Old Tappan instead of Lattingtown Road, due to the expressed concerns of residents and homeowners in the area. Old Tappan is the least traveled road and will therefore have the least amount of impact on traffic.
“We have confirmation from the county that this connection point [on Dosoris Lane and Lattingtown Road] has capacity and will not cause any adverse impact to the surrounding sources,” said Dickson.
Some residents still questioned whether the system has capacity, noting issues in nearby East Island, and some even asked if the board could get input from Glen Cove Department of Public Works employees. Shirlene Cannata, who lives on Lattingtown Road, mentioned standing water in a depressed area near her home; project consultant Chris Voorhis of Nelson & Pope said the drainage pipes that would be installed for the development should alleviate the problem.
Another hot topic was traffic. Dickson and Osman Barrie, project manager at Nelson & Pope Engineers, discussed the traffic study in detail, concluding that the subdivision will have no significant impact on traffic in the area, even during peak hours. During the first year or so of construction, the access will be off of Lattingtown Road, until the road to Old Tappan is in place.
Carolyne Dilgard-Clark, a mother of three who grew up on Morgan’s Island and lives there now, said, “With children in three different schools, on three different soccer teams and multiple basketball teams, I am up and down Dosoris, Old Tappan and Walnut roads all of the time. I find it difficult to believe that 40 additional homes will have no significant impact on traffic.”
In addition to more cars on the road, she raised concerns about the safety of children crossing the streets by the fields and the congestion caused by cars parked along those streets.
“I would ask the panel to take a closer look at how ‘peak’ was defined and at how the public schools and our sports system in Glen Cove would be affected,” Dilgard-Clark said.
She and others expressed concern about the project’s financial aspect.
“When they do this development and sell each individual house, that’s a one time generation of income,” said Dilgard-Clark. “After that, what about this sale makes Glen Cove Mansion a sustainable business venture?”
Another woman said she thinks that adding 40 additional million dollar homes will “saturate the market” and deteriorate the value of homes in Glen Cove. Others questioned the ability of these homes to sell, particularly with the new tax law.
Dickson said the plan is to build three to four model homes, and then continue building as each home sells. She stressed the binding, legal commitment to preserving the mansion in perpetuity.
“The only thing the mansion can be used for is a mansion or commercial property such as the hotel,” said Dickson, adding that the preservation plan requires a certain amount per year to be reinvested into the mansion.
Wang said that since he purchased the mansion, he has put at least $3 million into the preservation and restoration of the facility, from the moldings to the windows.
“We just want everyone to enjoy the mansion,” said Wang. “We want to reinvest and make this hotel a world class hotel.”
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