Hearing on Aby Rosen statue height limits continued until July

Real estate mogul Aby Rosen is seeking permits Real estate mogul Aby Rosen is seeking permits for three large statues on his historic Old Westbury estate. The statues include a 33-foot-tall bronze sculpture of a nude pregnant woman and her fetus and one of the cartoon character Hello Kitty. Photo Credit: Newsday Staff

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Old Westbury Village officials Monday night continued a hearing on height limits for accessory structures until July that was first prompted by an art collector placing a 33-foot nude, statue on his estate, angering neighbors.

Manhattan real estate mogul Aby Rosen placed the Damien Hirst sculpture known as "The Virgin Mother" at the historic A. Conger Goodyear House. Neighbors complained and village officials said Rosen needed approval from the village's planning department for its placement on the 5.5-acre property listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The issue led Mayor Fred Carillo to seek height limits for accessory structures, like the statue Rosen put up. Accessory buildings such as cabanas or sheds are currently limited to 25 feet.

Village officials Monday night voted unanimously to issue a negative declaration, saying the proposed law has no significant adverse impacts on the environment and declared no further environmental review is necessary.

One resident at the brief hearing asked whether new height limits would prohibit residents from bringing art greater than 25 feet.

Carillo said that may not necessarily be the case.

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Rosen is seeking approval from the village's planning board, which is chaired by Deputy Mayor Michael Wolf. Rosen presented a plan for the statue to be screened at the June 2 planning board meeting.

In his site plan review application, he sought approvals for two other large sculptures: "Wind-Up Hello Kitty": described as a 2008 sculpture from Tom Sachs, and "Untitled: Figure Balancing on Dog," a 1986 Keith Haring sculpture. Village officials are expected to tour the estate's grounds in reviewing the application.

At the June 2 planning board meeting, an arts preservationist had concerns about censorship.

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A neighboring village, East Hills, does not regulate statue height, considering the pieces art, officials said.

North Hempstead Town limits statues to no more than 15 feet tall in backyards in areas not subject to separate village restrictions.

Before Monday night's meeting Carillo, noting Rosen's application before the planning board, said, "I wouldn't want anything to complicate matters, to make it appear we're trying to impede them in their discretions -- as far as the planning board."

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