Glen Cove freezes waterfront zoning
A $1 billion mega-development envisioned on Glen Cove's waterfront is protected for 12 years from zoning changes that builders contend could disrupt construction, following a City Council vote split 4-2 along party lines.
The council's Democrats, including Mayor Ralph Suozzi, voted Wednesday in favor of the "vesting rights," saying they are the assurance that developer RXR Realty of Uniondale needs to secure financing and move forward the 52-acre Glen Isle project, whose master plan includes residential units and a hotel.
"I think this is beneficial for the city and it's incumbent upon us to support our partner," Councilman Michael Famiglietti said of the project he sees as a public-private joint venture. "I think there are enough checks and balances and guarantees going forward that this developer will deliver on what has been claimed."
Republican Councilman Anthony Gallo Jr. and Councilman Reginald Spinello, of the Independence Party, vehemently opposed freezing zoning changes as unnecessarily binding.
"The vesting right takes away the City Council's function of rezoning. We need that ability because a lot can change in 12 years," Gallo said. "I understand that the developers are attempting to get backing from lenders; the question is who's going to back taxpayers . . . down the road?"
Glen Isle vesting rights have been the controversial subject of three public hearings since January that have drawn vocal opposition from dozens of residents.
Detractors, including Glen Cove Republicans, at Wednesday's meeting continued to condemn the vesting rights as irresponsible and the legislation's handling as possibly illegal.
Gallo and Spinello attempted to table the vote, saying changes to the resolution brought to their attention just this week warranted additional time for review. The four Democrats -- Councilman Anthony Jimenez was absent -- blocked their motion.
Suozzi defended the changes as tweaks that clarified some points and gave context to others in light of public input.
An additional point of contention among the audience members Wednesday was an executive session held recently at a pre-council meeting. RXR chairman Scott Rechler spoke to the council at the executive session, which was closed to the public.
"Either the information is available to every resident of Glen Cove or it is not," said resident Janet Blatt, a Democrat who added that she has been opposed to Glen Isle for years. "If it is not, it's suspicious . . . because this is a democracy."