The Glen Cove City Council has approved a zoning change to the John and Ruth Pratt mansion property -- a move the mayor hailed as a victory for preservation -- that will save the historic building and great lawn and pave the way to develop 40 single-family homes.
The rezoning passed 4-3 late Tuesday, with Democratic Mayor Ralph Suozzi casting the deciding vote on what is known as the North Manor Estates project on Dosoris Lane.
"It preserves the mansion," he told the council audience. "It also preserves green space."
The vote followed a contentious council meeting Tuesday night and three previous public hearings during which some criticized the proposal as overly dense development that would increase traffic.
The new zoning designation, called an overlay, was created in the city's 2009 master plan as a compromise to preserve Gold Coast mansions and property owners' rights.
Citing the loss of the J.P. Morgan estate that was torn down to make way for single-family homes when he was a child, Suozzi said that is what he hoped to prevent. This rezoning allows for a cluster of homes to be built on a portion of the estate and prevents the mansion from being razed.
The owner, a limited liability company controlled by Los Angeles-based Oaktree Capital Management L.P., can sell a 22.7-acre subdivision of the 54.5-acre property to a developer who would later build houses on the land. The company bought the land in 2006 for $27.5 million, according to the website, Property Shark.
The rezoning proposal was shepherded by Montclair Hotel Investors, an Illinois-based management company that runs the Glen Cove Mansion Hotel and Conference Center on the property for the owner.
Dennis Langley, managing partner of Montclair said he was gratified by the vote.
"Everyone would like it to stay the way it is forever, we get that . . . but also the world changes and valuable pieces of land don't sit fallow forever," he said.
The property had been zoned for single-family homes on 1-acre plots, which meant that the owner had the right to demolish the mansion and build more than 50 homes.
Once the subdivision is finalized by the city planning board, a process Langley said he thinks the board and Montclair will begin in two months, the subdivision is likely to be sold to a private developer.
Councilman Reginald Spinello, an Independence Party member who voted against the project and is running against Suozzi for mayor in November, said, "This is not my vision for Glen Cove."