Whether it includes an actual piazza or not, Glen Cove's Village Piazza project is moving forward.
The city Planning Board on Wednesday narrowly approved the controversial downtown development despite the builder's failure to acquire three structures on the site.
In a meeting that included jeers from the audience, the board by a 4-3 vote gave the go-ahead to allow the builder to file a site plan application and special use permit.
The $60-million Piazza project includes 142 apartments, 27,632 square feet of retail space and a large decorative brick plaza that would be deeded to the city to use for events.
Supporters envision a thriving public space to revive a tired core. But some residents at the meeting cited concerns about traffic, density and the possibility that the rental apartments -- now aimed at medical graduate students at New York Institute of Technology -- might ultimately attract transients.
"I didn't move to Queens; I moved to Glen Cove," Norman Natko, a 50-year city resident, told the board.
Planning board members expressed their biggest reservations over three single-story office buildings that developer Michael Puntillo is trying to acquire. The buildings occupy space in the middle of what is to be the open plaza. Moving forward regardless of that concern, some board members said, could defeat the purpose of the project by reducing the plaza's size significantly.
"This is not a complete plan," said Robert Jakobsze, a board member who voted against approving the plan. "It's far from complete."
Puntillo owns the majority of the land, and plans to build around the structures if necessary. Offers have been made to the holdout property owners, he has said. One is City Councilman Nick DiLeo, who runs an insurance agency on the site.
While one planning board member had wondered about using eminent domain to seize the properties, Mayor Ralph Suozzi nixed the idea.
"The developer has never asked for it and I don't plan on it," Suozzi said in an interview before the meeting.
Planning board members who voted in favor of the project -- calling it a pivotal economic engine for the downtown area -- expect the issue of the holdout properties to be resolved so the project can proceed as envisioned.
"It's very hard to call this project a piazza with buildings stuck in the middle," said board member Cindy Rogers.