Monday, July 24, 2006

Fighting Words Against GWL Condos

Glenwood Landing resident Sally Sotirovich is calling for a grassroots campaign to oppose the 60-unit condominium apartment building proposed for Hempstead Harbor in the North Hempstead portion of Glenwood Landing.

In a recent email message circulated to many people who attended a standing room only zoning hearing last Tuesday at North Hempstead Town Hall, Ms. Sotirovich said she supported the “yes” option: that is, no action on the application submitted by the developer, Glen Harbor Partners.

The hearing has been held over to Tuesday, August 22, at 7:30 p.m. in North Hempstead Town Hall, 220 Plandome Road, Manhasset. It is very important for as man people as possible to attend this hearing to show their concern and to express their views. Contact Town Hall to confirm the time and date (869-7700).

The “yes,” or “no action” option would leave the property as it is—at least for the time being. “We would rather live with the site in its current state than lose it forever, as we will if a condo is built,” Ms. Sitirovich said in the message. “While we understand that at present there may be no funding to clean up the site and convert it to a park space, we are willing to wait until this is a possible option.”

A portion of the land is already owned by the Town of North Hempstead (TNH). If the zoning application to change the use of the property from industrial to residential is approved, this land would be sold to the developer.

In the email message, Ms. Sotirovich said she wants every resident who lives between Roslyn and Glen Cove to know about the proposal and called for volunteers to help:

• set up a simple website and serve as webmaster;

• design a flyer and poster;

• distribute flyers and circulate petitions;

• donate special legal or other skills.

Ms. Sotirovich can be reached at

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Full House at GWL Waterfront Condo Hearing

There was standing room only at North Hempstead Town Hall Tuesday evening, as more than 150 residents of Glenwood Landing, Glen Head, Sea Cliff, Glen Cove, and Roslyn Harbor attended a hearing to rezone the Harbor Fuel/Hinfin/Town of North Hempstead (TNH) property on Shore Road in Glenwood Landing from industrial use to residential use.

The zoning change has been requested by Glen Harbor Partners of Locust Valley. The firm has proposed a 60-unit condominium apartment building for the site (see Hearing Date Set for Waterfront Apartments, July 1; North Hempstead Accepts Environmental Impact Statement for Waterfront Apartments in Glenwood Landing, May 25).

Two items were on the agenda: the zoning change and findings based on an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that has been prepared by Glen Harbor Partners as required by TNH. The findings must be accepted by TNH before the zoning application can proceed.

The hearing was continued to Tuesday, August 22, at 7:30 p.m. It is extremely important that as many people as possible attend. The town also will accept written comments (which may be sent to Supervisor Jon Kaiman, Town of North Hempstead, 220 Plandome Road, Manhasset, NY 11030). Call the Town of North Hempstead (TNH) to confirm (869-7700).

Several residents said that the property should be developed as parkland. Others said they had not heard about the proposal until very recently and were shocked that an apartment building would be considered for this location.

Sally Sotirovich, a resident of Glenwood Landing, questioned the wisdom of building new housing adjacent to several generators, which are viewed by Homeland Security as potential terrorist targets. She said she had taken photos of KeySpan facilities to accompany her comments about the proposal. She said that soon afterward on two separate occasions she was contacted by law enforcement personnel and that one of these persons was from Homeland Security (see Environment of Terror, Newsday, July 20).

Ms. Sotirovich also said that she had not been able to locate the EIS or draft EIS at some of the libraries where it was supposed to be available. A spokesperson for Glen Harbor Partners said that copies had been delivered to each of the area's libraries. Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman said that the hearing would be carried over to ensure that libraries had copies of the documents and to give the public time to examine them.

The EIS is available on line at the TNH web site and in person at the Gold Coast Library. It should also be available at the Sea Cliff, Bryant, and Manhasset libraries. At least three other public hearings have been held in connection with the application over a period of about four years. On at least two occasions, TNH mailed notices to all of Glenwood Landing and part of Glen Head—an action that was far in excess of the town's legal obligation. The GWGH/GH Civic Association has distributed more than 6,000 informational flyers and newsletters about the proposal and commented at every step in the public review process.

The civic association believes that developing the subject property as open space would be the best use for the site. We also have been critical of the height and footprint of the proposed building, as well as the cost and logistics of constructing a sewer line to Glen Cove, a key component of the project. We have said that if a sewer line is constructed, the feasibility of hooking up other key parts of Glenwood Landing (such as lower Glenwood Road and the Shore Realty site located immediately south of the subject property) should be studied and that the line should not be built until such a study is completed. We also have said that if the project moves forward, open space and public access to the waterfront must be maximized—and protected with an ironclad conservation easement held by a nonprofit conservation organization such as the North Shore Land Alliance (see Civic to Stress Open Space & Water Quality at Glenwood Landing Waterfront Hearing, July 16.

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).

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

What's Happening in Glen Cove Creek?

If you are curious about the current vision for development around Glen Cove Creek, you can view the latest up-to-the-minute proposal, including a scale model, on Monday, July 17, from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Metropolitan Club, 3 Glen Cove Road, Glen Cove. Experts will be on hand to answer questions and take comments at an open house hosted by the city.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Safety a Concern at Glenwood Road / Kissam Lane Construction Site

Work at the corner of Glenwood Road and Kissam Lane opposite the Glenwood Landing Post Office, where seven new single-family homes are planned, has created holes and depressions on the property that could be dangerous—especially for children who may wander into the site. Because of this concern, the Glenwood / Glen Head Civic Association has contacted the Town of Oyster Bay to request that the site be secured. It is our understanding that town regulations require such precautions.

The civic association has also requested that maintenance of the sidewalk be improved, as it is often impassable, forcing people to walk in the street.

According to the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC), work at the site may be curtailed for an undetermined period of time. The DEC reports that a stop work order has been issued to the owner pending approval of a stormwater plan and site stabilization (see Halt in Work at Glenwood Site Until Runoff Is Controlled, June 27).

Hearing Date Set for Waterfront Apartments

Hold that Date
Tuesday, July 18, 7:30 P.M.
North Hempstead Town Hall
220 Plandome Road

A zoning hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, July 18, at 7:30 p.m. at North Hempstead Town Hall for an apartment building with 60 condominium units on the Glenwood Landing Waterfront immediately south of the Glenwood Landing Power Plant.

The applicant, Glen Harbor Partners of Locust Valley, has requested a change in zone from industrial use to multi-family residential use. The building would be constructed on a parcel of about 4 acres, including two town-owned lots and private land that was once the home of Harbor Fuel. A 1.24-acre parcel on the west side of Shore Road also is part of the development.

The rendering above, from the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) filed in May by Glen Harbor Partners, shows a view of the proposed building looking east from Hempstead Harbor. The site plan calls for a 5-story (including a ground-level parking garage), 57,000-square-foot building that is about 50 feet high and covers about 33% of the 4-acre parcel. Under the multiple residence zone requested in the application, 35% coverage, 24 units per acre, and three stories are permitted.

Soil would be brought in to increase the elevation of a portion of the property, as well as the overall height of the building, thus ensuring that the first floor of the building would be within federal flood plain guidelines. There would be a public waterfront esplanade with southern and northern access points. An environmental clean up would be funded by the developer. The use of the eastern parcel is undecided and appears to depend upon a number of variables, including whether a sewer line to Glen Cove is feasible.

At a hearing on April 28, 2005, Charles Voorhis, an engineer with Nelson, Pope & Voorhis, the firm representing Glen Harbor Partners, told the North Hempstead Town Board that there would be two one-bedroom units, 36 two-bedroom units, and 22 three-bedroom units. He also said the public esplanade would be 10 feet wide and that the lot on the east side of Shore Road would be donated to the town for use as open space. Mr. Voorhis said the height of the building is 45 feet and that this conforms to the height requirement of the requested zone.

Two variances needed

Artist rendering of the north wing of the proposed condominium building looking south from Shore Road, from the EIS.

If the rezoning request is approved, two variances will be needed to accommodate the number of stories in the building and the parking garage. Several years ago, when Glen Harbor Partners originally approached community groups about the possibility of developing the site, a 40-unit building, presumably lower and with a smaller footprint, was discussed. Glen Harbor Partners no longer appears to believe that the smaller-scale project is economically viable.

The view from Rams Hill

The rendering above, excerpted from the EIS, shows the proposed building looking east from Hempstead Harbor with existing homes on Rams Hill in the background. According to the EIS, the harbor would probably be visible from the second floors of the homes on Rams Hill.

The EIS is available on line at the Town of North Hempstead 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).

What’s Happening Under the Viaduct

The Village of Roslyn has accepted a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the former Stop and Shop site in Roslyn, an 11-acre parcel at the southern end of Hempstead Harbor in the vicinity of the viaduct. A hearing, held over from May 30, is scheduled for Tuesday, July 11, at 8 p.m. at Bryant Library.

According to a State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) Notice issued by the village, the DEIS was triggered by a proposal to build 66 townhouse units and 14 “flats.” There would be 245 parking spaces in garages, driveways, off-street, and on-street, as well as 39 additional spaces in two visitor parking lots adjacent to Bryant Avenue. The project includes public amenities such as a village green, waterfront promenade, pond with a wooden footbridge, two observation decks, gazebo, and waterfront plaza.

Vehicles would access the site at three locations: two on Skillman Street and one from the southern visitor parking area on Bryant Avenue.

The project next door

The proposed construction is just west of another 11-acre project already underway that involves two buildings: Sterling Glen, a 189,000-square-foot structure with 160 rental apartments, and Horizon, a 67,000-square foot building with 50 rental apartments. Both buildings are intended to appeal to seniors. The site plan calls for natural landscaping and ponds and, eventually, a public walking trail.

According to an article in the New York Times on June 27, 2004, Sterling Glen will include 90, one-bedroom, 650-square-foot to 750-square-foot apartments renting for $3,500 to $4,500 a month; 20, one-bedroom, 750-square-foot to 850-square-foot apartments with an extra windowless room renting for $4,500 to $5,500 a month; and 50, two bedroom, 850-square-foot to 1,200-square-foot apartments renting for $5,500 to $7,000.

The article states that the monthly fee will include a concierge, formal 120-seat restaurant, a cafe with waterside dining, a 40-seat theater, daily continental breakfast, 30 meals in either of the buildings’ two restaurants, weekly housekeeping and linen services, and an activities program. Optional support services, such as assistance with bathing, will be available for an additional fee. The charge for a second occupant in an apartment would be an additional $800 a month.

The developer is quoted as saying that Sterling Glen will generate $545,511 in school taxes and $40,103 in village taxes annually.

At Horizon, plans call for 10, three-bedroom 1,500-square-foot to 2,400 square-foot apartments, each with a water view and balcony, renting from $3,300 to $4,800 a month; 39 two-bedroom 1,100 square-foot to 1,500 square-foot apartments renting at $2,800 to $3,500 a month, and one studio. Support services will not be offered.