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Second lawsuit filed against Glen Cove waterfront project

A view of Glen Cove from Glen Cove

A view of Glen Cove from Glen Cove Creek from Sea Cliff Village Beach on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. The Village of Sea Cliff has filed a lawsuit against Glen Cove to stop the city's massive waterfront project. Sea Cliff says its residents will be affected by ruined views of the seashore and increased traffic. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The Village of Sea Cliff has sued neighboring Glen Cove over the city's planned waterfront redevelopment, alleging it violates an intermunicipal agreement that called for a significantly smaller project.

Sea Cliff Mayor Bruce Kennedy said the lawsuit -- the second in the past week aimed at delaying and scaling down the $850-million-plus Garvies Point project -- also is about preventing a development that includes two 11-story towers from destroying the bucolic charm of Long Island's North Shore.

"Glen Cove is singularly and unilaterally thinking it's OK for them to change the entire nature of the region," he said.

Last week, more than three dozen residents of Sea Cliff, Glen Cove and Glen Head filed suit, arguing that the city planning board broke state law by approving a permit for the 56-acre development without a thorough enough analysis of its environmental impact. The village's suit also alleges violations of environmental law. Both suits were filed in state Supreme Court in Nassau County.

An attorney for the city and an executive with RXR, the Uniondale-based developer that also is named in the suits, denied the allegations.

Plans to redevelop the formerly industrial waterfront land have dragged for two decades, with numerous changes along the way. On Oct. 6, the city planning board approved a special-use permit for a version that officials hope will break ground in the early spring. It would include 1,110 condominium and rental units, four parks, stores, offices, three marinas, an amphitheater and other amenities.

The project currently is 1.72 million square feet, more than double the 700,000 that Glen Cove agreed to with Sea Cliff in 2000. The towers would be nearly three times higher than the maximum height in the 2000 agreement.

Michael Zarin, a White Plains attorney advising the city on the project, questioned why the village is objecting and filing the suit "at the last minute, right before hopefully we're going to have shovels in the ground," even though previous versions of the development have been even larger.

Zarin said the 2000 agreement was not legally binding.

"It was sort of a letter of intent between the mayor of Glen Cove and the mayor of Sea Cliff to cooperate and work together," he said.

Zarin said officials from Glen Cove and Sea Cliff have had numerous meetings and phone calls about the project.

But Kennedy said the city has not kept the village apprised of all of the changes. The agreement, he said, is a "legally binding contract" between the municipalities.

Kennedy said that if the development goes through, water and tree views from Sea Cliff in the day and the dark, starry skies at night will be washed away by the bulk and bright lights of the buildings.

"The development will forever steal that peaceful, nature feeling from Sea Cliff," he said.

The village suit is scheduled to be heard on Dec. 21.

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