Old Westbury limits statue heights after quirky works on historic estate

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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The sky is no longer the limit for statues in Old Westbury.

The village's board of trustees approved a law Monday night limiting the height of accessory structures -- including gazebos, pergolas and statues -- to 25 feet, aligning them with height limits for accessory buildings, such as cabanas and sheds.

A homeowner with a structure taller than 25 feet can appear before the village's zoning board of appeals to seek a variance, Mayor Fred Carillo said.

Imposing height limits for accessory structures, "is something that had to be done and was overlooked in the past," Carillo said Tuesday. "We had to have a height limit; if a building is 25 feet, a structure shouldn't be any higher."

Manhattan real estate mogul Aby Rosen drew complaints from neighbors earlier this year after he installed "The Virgin Mother," a 33-foot-tall bronze statue of a nude pregnant woman on his 5.5-acre estate, where the A. Conger Goodyear House -- built in 1938 -- is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The statue, sculpted by the British artist Damien Hirst, displays the insides of about half a woman's body, with her tissue, skull and fetus exposed, much of it painted red.

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Neighbors complained to village officials that the statue was visible from their properties. Carillo said it was improperly placed in a conservation easement area, where plantings and structures are prohibited.

Rosen earlier this month received approval to place the statue -- along with two others -- on his property, after vowing to screen "The Virgin Mother" from the view of neighbors and pocket it in a hill, away from the conservation easement.

Carillo said the law passed Monday will have no "no effect whatsoever," on Rosen's already approved plans.

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Other tall artworks approved by the planning board for Rosen's property were "Wind-Up Hello Kitty," described as a 2008 sculpture from Tom Sachs, and a 1986 Keith Haring sculpture known as "Untitled: Figure Balancing on Dog."

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