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Homeowners Angry About Proposed Apartments

The Villa at Glen Cove would run from Ralph Young to Robinson Street on Glen Cove Avenue; some think that's too big.

A group of Glen Cove homeowners are upset over the possibility of a five-story apartment complex going up behind their properties, and they say they are gearing up for a fight.

“It’s totally against the neighborhood characteristics that we bought our homes for,” said Grace Slezak of Rooney Court.

She learned of the proposal on the city’s website several hours before the city council’s meeting Tuesday and rounded up a few neighbors to raise their concerns there.

“It had been a dead issue,” said Slezak, who had known of a similar plan several years ago but thought the idea had fizzled out when it failed to move forward at the time.

This time, Slezak and her neighbors fear the development will ruin their winter water views and bring noise and population density to an area they cherish for its privacy and natural feel.

Rooney Court is a small street which ends in a cul-de-sac set at the top of a gradient behind the . Twelve houses are located on the street, with four ringing the cul-de-sac.

The development, known as The Villa at Glen Cove, would occupy the east side of Glen Cove Avenue between Ralph Young Avenue and Robinson Avenue. The current proposal accommodates 216 units, according to Planning Board secretary Lois Stemkosky, although she said nothing is set in stone.

“Nothing has been approved yet. Nothing,” she said.

Public hearings will be held but no dates have been set. 

Ronnie Epstein lives in one of the homes in the cul-de-sac. When the trees are bare, she said, she enjoys a view of the sun setting over the water – and fears it could turn into a sunset over a brick-and-mortar structure.

"It's appropriating our water view and selling it to someone else," she said.

Epstein said she is also concerned for the old-growth trees located behind her property, and the hawks, foxes and other wildlife whose habitat is that wooded area. 

“We’re really just trying to understand the project,” she said. “I keep saying: ‘smart growth.’ Let’s be intelligent, let’s use our proper judgment here. Do you really need something that big in that little slice of land, or is it more appropriate to have something of that magnitude elsewhere, where it’s not going to directly eliminate an ecosystem that we have very little of left.”

Erin Hogan and Sonja Seidel also live on the cul-de-sac. Hogan is a 10-year resident and Seidel moved in with her husband last year. They said they worry about the plan’s impact on their home values and what it will do to the tranquility they found on Rooney Court.

“We purchased here because, for us, this is affordable living,” said Hogan. 

Glen Cove attorney Patrick Hoebich represents the development company, Livingston Development Corp. He said contact had been made with “various neighbors” but did not know if anyone on Rooney Court had ever been communicated with. 

He noted that an outreach office was established on the corner of Glen Street and Pulaski Street several years ago, and that it is there to field questions and contains a model of the proposed complex. 

“Based on the higher topography of Rooney Court, we do not believe there will be any adverse impacts to the land there,” Hoebich said, citing an environmental impact study done in 2010.

Some confusion seems to have been created by the failure of that study to trigger notification of the Rooney Court residents since the law at the time required notification of anyone living within 200 feet of an affected site – just short of the aforementioned homes. The city has since changed the law to make it 300 feet.

“The process hasn’t been hidden,” Hoebich maintained, adding that the project is in accordance with the city’s Master Plan. 

He described the proposed complex as an “aesthetically pleasing residential development” which would replace several blighted properties and “non-conforming” commercial businesses, and would include streetscaping on either side of Glen Cove Avenue, enhancing one of the city’s main entryways with trees and lantern lighting.

He said the improvement is expected to benefit nearby home values, not hurt them. 

The residents of Rooney Court remain skeptical, fearing the process will continue without due respect given to their concerns.

“Every dime I have is in my house,” Slezak said.

Thomas Howard July 07, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Craig, you speak the truth. May God bless you!
beej July 13, 2012 at 04:56 AM
Before Staples was built, Highland Road used to run to Brewster. The developer paid to buy that land. This Villa development would close Craft Avenue. Ask the developers how much they are paying for that piece of land. I believe it was 'nothing'. Why would GC give that up? What would be the impact of closing Craft Avenue? Less cut-through traffic, but where would they go? Past your house? Are there any studies? The Villa won't run to Robinson; the Boys and Girls club is there. The article is a bit misleading. How high would the five story building be? You could calculate if it would block a water view. There needs to be more transparency in this process...
gordon berg July 16, 2012 at 01:41 AM
I looked closely at the artists rendition of the propose 'Villas' across the road from the low income apartments on Glen Cove Ave. Not only are they out or character with the neighborhood but they are ugly.. Too big a hodgepodge of dissimilar structures. Trying to put too much covered parking lots and apartments into this neighborhood with out regard for its residents concerns.Loud noise,pollution, congestion, lower property values, and blocked views of private homes of taxpayers in the a immediate area. As the sun rises over the wooded landscape behind Rooney Court shining its warm glow into the windows of the low income housing apartments across the street. The 'Villas' will not only block the beautiful water view of many residents, lowing the quality of life to a Flushing Queens Type Apt. Wall View but displace the natural habitat of what I believe to be an Eagle that is seen nesting in the tall trees that occupy this land.The dark cloud blocking the sun from the many bright kitchens on the west side of Glen Cove Road will be the shadow of a Tall Big Ugly Building and those who allowed it to be built. I've lived in Glen Cove all my life,my parents lived here as well and so do my children. I've seen good development of the downtown area,I've seen preservation of our parks and beaches I've seen good people stand up for what they believe is right.This 'Villa' is wrong.downsize not SUPERSIZE. Thanks,Gordon Berg
Smart Growth Advocate July 17, 2012 at 10:38 PM
An "overlay zone" was created to accomodate this development and the rationale for the overlay zone is to create a downtown at Glen Cove Ave. and Craft. You should be asking yourself, don't we already have a robust downtown? And more importantly, how could that location even support a downtown area when its on a slope on an already congested heavily traversed road? I will now go back to your original question: - what is the relationship between the developer and the City - records show that the developer has contributed handsomely to the mayor's campaign and the mayor picks the planning board members who decide on the zoning changes. An increase in density of this magnitude is historic for Glen Cove - This project is taller in height and has a greater density than the Avalon which is in a downtown area and not near residential homes. One can understand wanting to improve a blighted area but creating a monstrosity that is totally incompatable with existing zoning and land uses? There is no excuse for this. Someone needs to protect the rights of Glen Cove residents and taxpayers. The Villas will not be pwying taxes - but rather, "payments in liew of taxes" (PILOTs) so the project does nto even pay the City its fair share of taxes. Can you say freebee to the developer? This is why intelligent people are not attracted to Glen Cove - because the zoning changes and projects are not smart and sustainable -- they are idiotic.
The truth will set us free August 26, 2012 at 09:08 PM
How is it possible that a high density overlay zone was created directly abutting existing residential property on large lots? This Overlay Zone was created illegally and in contravention of public opinion. The "task force" overseeing the process was hand picked by the administration and the entire master plan process was illegal. The idea that a high density overlay zone should be allowed on glen cove avenue is merely an attempt to relocate poor people - this process flies in the face of due process of integrity and anyone in the City government should be ashamed of themselves for not standing up against it. Anyone can see a high density overlay zone is absolutely inconsistent with the surrounding zoning and that this is nothing more than a back door deal made through the violation of public integrity. The truth on this will come out and the people of Glen Cove will finally be heard. Based on the comments above and eslewhere everyone clearly knows what really went down in the "master plan" giveaway process.

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