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Lawsuit dismissal clears path for Long Beach medical building

Construction is expected to begin as early as

Construction is expected to begin as early as spring on a new medical facility in Long Beach. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin/Debbie Egan-Chin

A Nassau County Supreme Court judge rejected a lawsuit by a group of residents challenging Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital's plan to build a medical arts pavilion near the former property of the Long Beach Medical Center.

Judge Steven Jaeger ruled last month against the case brought by residents Nadine Watts, Alison La Ferlita and Leah Tozer, who challenged the Long Beach Zoning Board of Appeals decision to rezone the East Bay Drive property from a residential to medical building site.

Mount Sinai South Nassau plans to build a $40 million medical outpatient center at 440 E. Bay Drive, a property acquired by South Nassau in 2014 adjacent to the former hospital that was destroyed by superstorm Sandy.

The Zoning Board granted approval in July to build on the vacant property, which previously included medical offices and homes that have since been demolished.

Hospital officials plan to build an elevated one-story 15,000-square-foot medical office building, including 18 examination and two new procedure rooms. The offices will include radiology, primary care, pediatrics, OB-GYN, oncology, internal medicine, podiatry and rotating specialists for cardiology and urology.

A group of about 20 residents, represented by Long Beach attorney Denis Kelly, argued that the newly acquired property should not be grandfathered in to the property of the former hospital on the bayfront where two of the original hospital buildings still exist.

The residents challenging the property requested a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to stop the project from being built, arguing that South Nassau merged properties in three zoning districts.

“They made this blanket argument all of the properties were under common ownership, because South Nassau went out of the way to contribute to what they didn’t own,” Kelly said. “My clients don’t believe what they’re putting on this block belongs there and if they want a medical arts pavilion, it should be on the bay where the hospital is now.”

The Long Beach ZBA found South Nassau as the common owner of the hospital property and “for accessory hospital use” since 1947.

The Nassau Supreme Court denied the residents’ argument, finding that the proper factors were considered by the Zoning Board and the board’s zoning ruling was not illegal.

Kelly said he has filed a notice of appeal.

South Nassau officials said they are applying for building permits and selecting contractors. Groundbreaking on the medical arts pavilion is expected in late spring or early summer and may take 18 months to complete.

Officials said they do not intend to sell or the develop the remaining property, but are talking to developers about converting the two existing buildings of the hospital into assisted living or dialysis centers.

“Many physicians left Long Beach following Sandy, forcing residents to seek treatment off island," South Nassau senior vice president Joe Calderone said in a statement. "The new pavilion also will help revive the campus of the former Long Beach Medical Center." 

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