Sunday, July 16, 2006

Civic to Stress Open Space & Water Quality at Glenwood Landing Waterfront Hearing

The application by Glen Harbor Partners of Locust Valley to rezone the Harbor Fuel / Hinfin property south of the Glenwood Landing Power Station from an industrial zone to a multi-family residential zone will be heard at North Hempstead Town Hall, 220 Plandome Road, Manhasset, on Tuesday, July 18, at 7:30 p.m. (see Hearing Date Set for Waterfront Apartments, May 27, for a description of the proposal and renderings excerpted from the Environmental Impact Statement). It is important for as many people as possible to attend the hearing and express their views—whatever those views may be. Call the Town of North Hempstead (TNH) to confirm (869-7700).

The civic association has been following the Glen Harbor Partners application for several years and has participated in three previous hearings held in connection with the proposed project. The civic association has expressed grave reservations about the application at every opportunity. We have been particularly critical of TNH’s plan to sell to the applicant two town-owned lots adjacent to the Harbor Fuel/Hinfin property. We also have been critical of the height and footprint of the building and skeptical about the logistics and expense of constructing a sewer line to Glen Cove—particularly without examining the possibility of hooking up certain other key areas and the potential impact of doing so on the harbor and on future development along the waterfront.

As a matter of policy, the civic association has not, to date, supported or opposed this or any other application. Rather, it has participated in various review procedures and done what it could to inform neighbors about high-priority applications to help make it easier for residents to express their particular views should they chose to do so. Toward that end, the civic association has distributed more than 6,000 informational flyers about the Glen Harbor Partners application to residents in Glenwood Landing, parts of Glen Head, and Roslyn Harbor (RH).

Because open space and water quality are two of the civic association’s major priorities, we plan to focus on these issues at the Tuesday hearing. Among the items we think must addressed if the zoning change is granted and the project moves forward are:

Waterfront walkway. Title to the walkway shown in the plan would be privately held, but public access would be permitted. In our view, the public’s interest in the walkway must be protected by an iron-clad easement—and the best and perhaps only way to achieve this goal is through a conservation easement held by a private, nonprofit conservation organization. The North Shore Land Alliance has expressed strong interest in handling a conservation easement at this location. In such an arrangement, the land remains in private hands, the owner receives a reasonable tax benefit, and the possibility that the easement might be lost or overturned at some time in the future is minimized. A walkway with a conservation easement would advance the goals of the New York State Open Space Plan (2002), which specifically calls for establishing a Glenwood Landing Waterfront Greenway, and the Glenwood Landing Waterfront Redevelopment and Revitalization Plan developed by the Town of Oyster Bay for the Oyster Bay portion of the Glenwood Landing Waterfront.

Lawn. The plan currently shows a lawn between the walkway and the patio and pool area adjacent to the building. Lawns have virtually no wildlife value and increase the nutrient load delivered to nearby waterways. Therefore, we believe that it is extremely important for this area to be landscaped with native plants and managed for wildlife—again with an easement held by the North Shore Land Alliance or similar group.

Design of walkway and wildlife area. Materials, dimensions, access points, and amenities must be contractually specified. The walkway should be constructed of brick or stone; amenities should include sturdy, attractive benches, lighting, and refuse containers; the width of the walkway should be at least 10 feet (as specified by the applicant in previous testimony), and there should be entrances at both ends (also as specified by the applicant in previous testimony).

Operation of walkway and wildlife area. Hours of access for the walkway must be contractually specified (we suggested 24/7). Access to the wildlife area must be contractually prohibited for everyone but management personnel. Long term maintenance and management needs should be addressed by requiring the developer to deposit funds into an account earmarked for initial maintenance and management; going forward, a yearly percentage of condominium owner fees should be assessed for and dedicated to ongoing maintenance and management.

Kayak launch. Several years ago the civic association and a RH trustee filed a joint Environmental Legacy Fund (ELF) application for a kayak launch at the western terminus of Scudders Lane just south of the proposed development. ELF is the program funded by the TNH environmental bond act approved by voters several years ago. The response from TNH seemed favorable, but the application seems to have fallen between the cracks. Establishing a blue route (canoe/kayak water trail) is a priority included in the Hempstead Harbor Management Plan. The Scudders Lane kayak launch should be viewed as an important component of developing this area and it should be accomplished in a timely fashion.

Motts Cove. Motts Cove supports abundant wildlife and is facing increased pressure due to increased human activity permitted by TNH and RH. TNH should make it a wildlife management priority. Recall that only a few years ago, TNH permitted three single-family homes to be constructed on land with frontage on Motts Cove that had been town-owned, a situation that caught many people in the community completely off guard. The land would have made a lovely vest-pocket park with frontage on a very active birding area. That opportunity is now totally lost to the public and the increased human presence increases the stress on the Motts Cove ecosystem.

Sewer line construction. The EIS did not examine the feasibility of sewering portions of Glenwood Landing or providing a hook up for the Shore Realty site. Consistently high bacteria counts have been documented at the Powerhouse outfall (located on the town line between Powerhouse Park and the Power Station) in both dry and wet weather. Would sewering key portions of Glenwood Landing significantly reduce the bacteria count and would such a reduction significantly improve water quality in Hempstead Harbor? An application to develop the Shore Realty site is likely to be filed at some point in the foreseeable future. Will another sewer line be required at that time? How many times will Shore Road have to be opened to accommodate a sewer line; how many sewer lines can Shore Road accommodate? How much sewage from Glenwood Landing is Glen Cove able and willing to accommodate? A feasibility study addressing these questions, as well as the cumulative impacts associated with them, is necessary. Such a study would advance the goals of the Hempstead Harbor Water Quality Improvement Plan. To ignore these and other related questions, perhaps in an attempt to limit cumulative impacts, seems bafflingly counterintuitive and, in the long run, could, potentially, do more harm than good.

Sewer line operation. What will the pumping stations look like; how many will there be; where will they be located? Who will operate the sewer line and be responsible for its maintenance and repair? Will the sewer line be dedicated to a municipality; if so, which one and has that municipality accepted the responsibility? If not, what are the ramifications?

Spending increased tax revenue. If the proposed project moves forward, it will double the number of households in the TNH portion of Glenwood Landing. Presumably, tax revenue will increase as a result. We would like to see the TNH portion of GWL benefit from this increase in local revenue. One possibility is restoration and management of a historic cemetary located at the end of Viking Road that is owned by TNH and that has been all but forgotten. We suggest that TNH formally survey people who live in the TNH section of GWL to determine what other suggestions they may have.

Management of the eastern lot. The project includes a one-acre lot on the eastern side of Shore Road. The applicant has said that this lot would be dedicated to the town. While we would be more than pleased to see this land come into the public domain, it clearly is a very problematic lot, largely because of its location on a sharp curve. Should the lot be acquired by the town, we would request that a mechanism be established for determining how the lot will be managed and request the opportunity to participate in the planning process.

The EIS prepared by Glen Harbor Partners and accepted by TNH is available on line at the TNH web site and in person at the Gold Coast Public Library (see EIS for GWL Waterfront Apartments Available at Gold Coast Library, May 27; North Hempstead Accepts Environmental Impact Statement for Waterfront Apartments in Glenwood Landing, May 25).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As usual, it appears that our local governments are about to fail us again on the overdevelopment issue. The Town of North Hempsteads is being extremely irresponsible and thoughtless if they allow the proposed 5 story "condominum complex" to proceed.
Based on the information provided by Glen head/Glenwood civic spot, it would appear that the developer is planing something more like an apartment building than a condominium complex. My question to all of us is: How is a 57,000 square foot building with 60 units (2-1 bedroom, 36-two bedroom, and 22-three bedroom units) more economically viable than the previously proposed 40 unit 4 story building of the same footprint and therefore same square footage on each floor. Construction costs the same per square foot whether you are building a 45,000 or a 57,000 square foot building. 60 units in a 57,000 square foot building would mean that each unit (especially the three bedroom units)would be 950 square feet on average. This does not take into account the 20% loss factor for common areas i.e. hallways, fire stairs, elevator shafts, etc. This will decrease the size of the apartments even further. Outside of Manhattan, this cannot be very profitable, since the apartments would have to sell at lower prices due to their small size. Nevermind that one is hard pressed to find any structure in our community that exceeds 3 or 4 stories. Could it be that the developer will change their mind as they have done already in increasing the size of the building and decide to build a rental complex? This could certainly create a return on investment by creating an income stream rather than a one-time return on investment by the sale of condominium units.
This would certainly change the demographic and "feel" of our community and school system. The Glenwood/Glen Head community in which neighbors raise families together and are friends would change to a more transient type. Therefore lowering the desirability of the community. What sort of impact will this have on our school system, our Fire Department and already overloaded infrastructure? While I welcome the opportunity to renew a blighted area in our community, I do not think that we should allow the ususal quick "once over" that our local zoniing boards usually give to their developer friends, turn the opportunity to make a real change for the better become a turn for the worse. Everyone in Glenwood Landing and Glen Head should be looking at this with as much or more scrutiny and anger as was during the ill-conceived and ill-fated Foxwoods Casino Ferry proposal. This may have much more far reaching consequenses than senior citizen groups causing a traffic jam on Shore Road.