A group of Glen Cove homeowners are upset over the possibility of a five-story apartment complex going up behind their properties, and they say they are gearing up for a fight.
“It’s totally against the neighborhood characteristics that we bought our homes for,” said Grace Slezak of Rooney Court.
She learned of the proposal on the city’s website several hours before the city council’s meeting Tuesday and rounded up a few neighbors to raise their concerns there.
“It had been a dead issue,” said Slezak, who had known of a similar plan several years ago but thought the idea had fizzled out when it failed to move forward at the time.
This time, Slezak and her neighbors fear the development will ruin their winter water views and bring noise and population density to an area they cherish for its privacy and natural feel.
Rooney Court is a small street which ends in a cul-de-sac set at the top of a gradient behind the . Twelve houses are located on the street, with four ringing the cul-de-sac.
The development, known as The Villa at Glen Cove, would occupy the east side of Glen Cove Avenue between Ralph Young Avenue and Robinson Avenue. The current proposal accommodates 216 units, according to Planning Board secretary Lois Stemkosky, although she said nothing is set in stone.
“Nothing has been approved yet. Nothing,” she said.
Public hearings will be held but no dates have been set.
Ronnie Epstein lives in one of the homes in the cul-de-sac. When the trees are bare, she said, she enjoys a view of the sun setting over the water – and fears it could turn into a sunset over a brick-and-mortar structure.
"It's appropriating our water view and selling it to someone else," she said.
Epstein said she is also concerned for the old-growth trees located behind her property, and the hawks, foxes and other wildlife whose habitat is that wooded area.
“We’re really just trying to understand the project,” she said. “I keep saying: ‘smart growth.’ Let’s be intelligent, let’s use our proper judgment here. Do you really need something that big in that little slice of land, or is it more appropriate to have something of that magnitude elsewhere, where it’s not going to directly eliminate an ecosystem that we have very little of left.”
Erin Hogan and Sonja Seidel also live on the cul-de-sac. Hogan is a 10-year resident and Seidel moved in with her husband last year. They said they worry about the plan’s impact on their home values and what it will do to the tranquility they found on Rooney Court.
“We purchased here because, for us, this is affordable living,” said Hogan.
Glen Cove attorney Patrick Hoebich represents the development company, Livingston Development Corp. He said contact had been made with “various neighbors” but did not know if anyone on Rooney Court had ever been communicated with.
He noted that an outreach office was established on the corner of Glen Street and Pulaski Street several years ago, and that it is there to field questions and contains a model of the proposed complex.
“Based on the higher topography of Rooney Court, we do not believe there will be any adverse impacts to the land there,” Hoebich said, citing an environmental impact study done in 2010.
Some confusion seems to have been created by the failure of that study to trigger notification of the Rooney Court residents since the law at the time required notification of anyone living within 200 feet of an affected site – just short of the aforementioned homes. The city has since changed the law to make it 300 feet.
“The process hasn’t been hidden,” Hoebich maintained, adding that the project is in accordance with the city’s Master Plan.
He described the proposed complex as an “aesthetically pleasing residential development” which would replace several blighted properties and “non-conforming” commercial businesses, and would include streetscaping on either side of Glen Cove Avenue, enhancing one of the city’s main entryways with trees and lantern lighting.
He said the improvement is expected to benefit nearby home values, not hurt them.
The residents of Rooney Court remain skeptical, fearing the process will continue without due respect given to their concerns.
“Every dime I have is in my house,” Slezak said.