Monday, July 30, 2007

Glenwood / Glen Head Civic Comments on Flag Lot Variances for Motts Cove Rd

Thursday, July 26: The Town of Oyster Bay Zoning Board of Appeals held a variance hearing for flag lots on a 6-unit subdivison on the east side of Motts Cove Road. The property straddles Glen Head and Roslyn Harbor. Five lots would be in Glen Head; one would be in Roslyn Harbor. The application was last on the agenda and was called around midnight. The Glenwood / Glen Head Civic Association's remarks, made in concert with the Hill Terrace Civic Association, are below:

Good evening. My name is Patrice Benneward. I am the president of the GW/GH Civic Association. The civic association believes that this proposal requires a positive declaration under SEQRA based on the physical characteristics and location of the parcel, the density requested, the parcel’s proximity to two small state- and federal-listed wetlands across the street, and the potential impact on wildlife.

As I hope you have observed firsthand, the site is located in an area that receives a tremendous amount of runoff. Much of this runoff is destined for Hempstead Harbor, a state and federally protected water body. Numerous county, village, and town storm drains are in the vicinity. There also is a water district pumping facility. The impact of the proposal on the harbor and on this infrastructure needs to be thoroughly understood and addressed.

The parcel is sloped, densely wooded, and contains two small ponds. If the proposal is accepted as is and at the requested density, the result will destroy virtually all of these characteristics. The ponds will be gone, the site will be stripped of virtually all vegetation, and the slopes will be significantly recontoured. The implications of so great an alteration need to be thoroughly understood and addressed, particularly in light of the state’s emphasis on proper stormwater controls. The Planning Dept. has prepared a map of slopes in Glenwood Landing and lower Glen Head that documents steep slopes on the subject parcel. I am submitting a copy of that map for your review.

The town’s own recent study of land use in Glenwood Landing and Glen Head has documented two small state- and federally- listed wetlands across the street in Roslyn Harbor. I am submitting a map prepared by the Planning Dept. showing these wetlands. The wetlands are surrounded by other valuable water features and slopes in an area where three more new homes are planned. The impact of altering the subject parcel on these features and the three additional homes soon to be constructed need to be thoroughly understood and addressed.

Peregrine falcons and red tailed hawks are frequently seen in the vicinity. The potential impact of this proposal on their nesting and feeding behaviors needs to be thoroughly understood and addressed.

Finally, development of the parcel will require relocation of the golf club’s maintenance road to a position much closer to Hill Terrace than the current maintenance road. The impact and details of such a relocation need to be thoroughly understood and addressed, particularly since the new location will be much closer to many more property owners than at the present location.

For these reasons, we believe that the only responsible route to an informed decision on this application is a full SEQRA-mandated Environmental Impact Statement with public scoping. I underscore the importance of public scoping.

I would like to add that virtually all of the conditions I have mentioned pertinent to SEQRA review could and should have been known to the applicant before he purchased the property or submitted this application.

There also is a great deal of concern about some of the construction practices that have recently been employed in the neighborhood, both in general and by this applicant in particular.

A moment ago I mentioned that the site contains two ponds. Well, there were two ponds until an attempt was made to fill one of them in. At least one stop work order was issued in connection with this activity, but not before a considerable amount of damage was done. I am happy to report that the pond is gradually restoring itself and has made considerable progress toward this end. I respectfully submit that this application should NOT move forward until the applicant restores the pond to its previous condition. Such flagrant disregard for the procedures and regulations mandated by town and village codes MUST NOT be tolerated by this board or any other board in any jurisdiction.

In addition, as you know, the applicant is currently building six homes on a sloped, one-acre site nearby. Unfortunately, no attempt appears to have been made to preserve or accommodate the natural slope of that parcel; virtually every tree and bush has been removed from the site; and construction-related stormwater controls have been less than exemplary. In addition, the project is taking a long time to complete, subjecting nearby property owners to dust, mud, noise, and a view of a portable bathroom. Another temporary concern is inadequate security, of particular importance because of the proximity of Glenwood Landing school and the large number of children who live nearby. The permanent end result is entirely too many homes for the site and a detrimental change in the leafy, gardenlike atmosphere of the community.

In light of these concerns, we question the wisdom of issuing any variances, site plan approvals, or building permits to this applicant until he proves he plans to employ best management practices and unless the town is willing to follow through with vigorous monitoring and enforcement. I have contacted the Planning Dept. to ask that any warnings, concerns relating to possible code violations, or actual code violations issued to the applicant on this or any other project in the Town of Oyster Bay or the Village of Roslyn Harbor be incorporated into the record of this hearing and I ask you to be certain that this occurs.

Finally, because this parcel spans two jurisdictions, I urge you to reach out to the Village of Roslyn Harbor on this application and to communicate and coordinate with the village in every possible way in order to achieve an outcome that will be acceptable to both communities.

Thank you for your attention and careful consideration of this application.