Two separate lawsuits were filed last week against various boards and agencies of the City of Glen Cove in opposition to a recent amendment adopted by the Glen Cove Planning Board regarding the proposed Garvies Point development on Glen Cove Creek.
The Incorporated Village of Sea Cliff filed a lawsuit on Nov. 5, in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, against numerous parties including the Planning Board of the City of Glen Cove, Glen Cove City Council, City of Glen Cove Industrial Development Agency, City of Glen Cove Community Development Agency, project redeveloper Rexcorp-Glen Isle Partners LLC, and other parties with various interests in the proposed development.
The petitioners-plaintiffs also include the Board of Trustees of the Village of Sea Cliff and Bruce Kennedy, individually and as mayor of Sea Cliff. This legal action arises from the Oct. 6 decision of the Glen Cove Planning Board granting the application for an Amended PUD Master Development Plan and subdivision application for the project. Petitioners contend that the proposed Waterfront Development Plan “would significantly alter forever the character of the community and transform Hempstead Harbor, which is currently a bucolic waterfront, environmentally sensitive land into a gigantic, sprawling, and super-densely-packed subdivision with 1,100 residential units, including a single structure that is 125 feet tall with a mass of 635,000 square feet.”
The suit alleges several distinct areas of violation, including breach of contract for failure to abide by a 2000 agreement between the village and the city which sets forth parameters of the development plan.
A separate lawsuit was filed last week by attorney Amy Marion on behalf of 41 private residents of Glen Cove, Sea Cliff and Glen Head.
“Because of its scope and size, the Garvies Point development is more than a Glen Cove issue; it is a regional issue,” Kennedy said. “We will fight to keep this disproportionate and inappropriate development from changing our community’s character and destroying our environment. Hempstead Harbor, Glen Cove Creek and its surrounding communities constitute an environmentally sensitive area and we will not allow the City of Glen Cove to make mistakes that will cause irreparable harm and a permanent transformation of our community. We will not accept the adverse environmental impacts that this project will assuredly bring without having voice in how this land is developed.”
In response, the City of Glen Cove maintains that the entire process has been transparent and that the lawsuits will not interrupt or delay their plans to move forward with project.
“It is not uncommon for a last minute ‘hail mary’ suit to be filed so close to the end,” said attorney Michael Zarin, special counsel for the waterfront development project. “It is unfortunate that it is coming from a neighboring village.”
According to city officials, the amended plan will improve the view sheds from Sea Cliff and Hempstead Harbor, as compared to the prior approved PUD Master Plan from 2011. The prior plan approved a continuous row of buildings, with 12-story “bookends” on the west side of the project. Under the amended plan, the density on the west side would be significantly reduced by approximately 270,000 gross square feet and consolidated into just two building blocks, according to a press release sent out by the city.
“The changes to the west side will greatly improve visual corridors and ensure that our waterfront will be an attractive and inviting destination for our residents and visitors,” said Mayor Reginald Spinello.
The city also maintains that the 2000 agreement is legally unenforceable and “has never once been raised or mentioned by the village during the past 15 years” when the planning for the waterfront project advanced.
The second lawsuit challenges the planning board’s approval on environmental grounds, claiming that there is “new” information that requires the board to completely re-open the SEQRA process; the city said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have been fully involved in the Glen Cove Waterfront for close to 20 years and will not grant final approvals until the site is safe and ready for re-use.
Additionally, Zarin said the Glen Cove Planning Board exhaustively studied and is fully informed about the environmental conditions at the property and that the law does not require a municipality to re-open the SEQRA process every time new tests are conducted and data is obtained as part of EPA’s and DEC’s final approval processes. Zarin also said that there is no intent on the part of the city or the redeveloper to delay the project.
“If anything, this suit has made the city and the redeveloper more resolved to move the project forward,” said Zarin.