The City Council and Planning Board held a joint hearing this past Tuesday on Livingston Development Corp.’s plans to develop the Villa at Glen Cove and on its requested “density bonuses and waivers”. The latter catches our attention, but not as much as getting called out by the applicant’s lawyer.
Patrick Hoebich, representing Livingston, said he wanted to show a video especially because The Gold Coast Beacon published an editorial by Grace Slezak featuring images of one version of the proposed project. Mr. Hoebich attempted to discredit the editorial on the grounds that apparently it did not feature the latest iteration of the Villa Project, which he said would be unveiled in the video. Both the image and Hoebich’s presentation featured a development of 196 units, so it’s kind of like Etch-A-Sketch.
The images of the 196 unit project we attached to Slezak’s editorial were dated April, 2014 as part of the Final Environmental Impact Statement, on record with the Planning Board. In addition, the visual simulation suggests that at least until very recently, the developer desired what we posted on the Beacon. Further review would be akin to a debate over what the meaning of “is” is, but we do appreciate the shout out.
It wasn’t the first time actors associated with the project felt compelled to discredit the editorial. In the wake of the publication, someone who shall remain unnamed called us, threatening “legal action”. Especially troubling, the person claimed to call and “warn us on behalf of” an official City body. This person claimed Slezak’s article contained falsehoods and “inconsistencies”, but our accuser came up blank when pressed for specific instances. In addition, Slezak’s article was about public policy and public figures, of which private residents are granted free speech privileges to write about in the United States of America.
In fact, Mayor Spinello appeared to validate Slezak’s and others’ concerns that prior changes to the Master Plan and zoning regarding the project were not filed with New York State as required. He said he is researching it and will “have a formal opinion at the next meeting”.
Planning Board Chairman Thomas Scott said the Board recommended to the City Council part of the “bonus densities” granted for the structured parking it will install, but not for its streetscape improvements. Scott said the laws required bonus densities for onsite recreational amenities, though the Planning Board didn’t felt the offerings would benefit the City. “We didn’t feel the applicant should be entitled to those bonus densities,” he said.
The structured parking densities received a comment from one resident, who brought a picture of what the “structured parking” looks like in practice. He argued that the structured parking proposal was a ploy to get more units.
The meeting allowed for supporters and opponents, but this writer found Kathleen Lappano’s the most nuanced. Lappano spoke about the history of prior governments who acted–without public input–and brought about the “beginning of the deterioration of our downtown,” starting with our garages. She spoke about the Brewster houses (Glen Arms?), “some genius built office buildings on School Street,” which she said destroyed foot traffic downtown. “Then we had more geniuses tell us the Village Square was going to really do it for Glen Cove… you can’t even see into that development!”
Between the two extremes of pro-development and NIMBYism, said Lappano, “there needs to be a middle ground. We are not against development, we are against poor, abusive development that doesn’t have a long shelf life. We don’t want another garage, we don’t want another Avalon. We want something that is going to make Glen Cove great.”
What will make Glen Cove great? We’ll pick up where Lappano left off in the next post.