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Attorneys argue in appeals court over lawsuit to stop Garvies Point project

Sea Cliff and residents of nearby communities want the court to annul the 2015 planning board approval of Garvies Point, saying Glen Cove did not seek more environmental reviews as project plans changed.

The Garvies Point project is under construction in

The Garvies Point project is under construction in Glen Cove. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Attorneys seeking to stop construction of the $1 billion Garvies Point development along Glen Cove’s waterfront argued in court Wednesday that the city violated environmental law and a legally binding agreement in approving the project.

But lawyers for the city and developer contended the project went forward only after rigorous studies and changes that responded to resident concerns.

The Village of Sea Cliff and more than 100 residents of Glen Cove, Sea Cliff and nearby communities are appealing a 2016 state Supreme Court decision out of Nassau that dismissed two lawsuits against the city and Uniondale-based developer RXR Glen Isle Partners. They want the Appellate Division Second Department in Brooklyn to annul the 2015 city planning board approval of Garvies Point.

RXR is building 1,110 condominiums and apartments, parks, an esplanade, marinas, restaurants, and retail and office space on formerly industrial land heavily contaminated by chemicals left by a metal processing plant, salvage yard, oil storage tanks and other uses.

Amy Marion, an attorney for the residents, told a four-judge panel that the 2011 environmental impact statement required for the project included deliberate misrepresentations by the city of Glen Cove on the extent of environmental cleanup.

Marion said the project’s substantial changes between 2011 and 2015, when the city planning board gave its approval, necessitated a new study.

Presiding Judge Alan Scheinkman said the changes made over the years decreased the footprint of the buildings and increased public space. “That would seem like a good thing,” he said.

But Marion argued that the changes still needed to be looked at for potential environmental issues.

Judge Angela Iannacci asked Michael Zarin, an attorney for the city, why a supplemental environmental impact statement was not conducted following the major changes.

Zarin said the planning board took the legally required “hard look” at the environmental impacts of the changes and determined such a study wasn’t necessary. The additional open space, greater setbacks and decrease in building mass addressed key concerns from residents and Sea Cliff village, he said.

He denied the allegations of misrepresentations, saying city documents fully discussed and disclosed environmental conditions at the site. He also noted that the state Department of Environmental Conservation publicly refuted allegations it was misled.

Zarin also denied the city violated a 2000 memorandum of understanding between Glen Cove and Sea Cliff that called for a significantly smaller project than the one now under construction. The village, he said, never objected to changes in the project over the years.

Scheinkman said that even if Glen Cove wasn't necessarily cooperating with Sea Cliff on the project, the memorandum appeared to be an agreement by the village not to oppose the project if it stayed within certain parameters.

“Where in the agreement does it say there is any promise?” he asked.

Sea Cliff Village attorney, Brian Stolar, called the memorandum “a settlement ... an agreement to resolve our differences” and avoid legal action.

After the court session, Bruce Kennedy, the village’s administrator and former mayor, said Sea Cliff did raise objections and Glen Cove over the years “repeatedly ignored all our concerns.”

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