Residents filled the seats in City Hall's Main Chambers Thursday for a special joint session of the Glen Cove City Council and Planning Board, with a number of homeowners giving impassioned testimony of their concerns over the proposal to build a 17-acre development on the grounds of the Glen Cove Mansion.
"I don't want this development - this monstrosity," yelled neighbor Joe Joworski of Hollow Way after listening to the plan's presenters. Joworski had little use for the podium's microphone as he moved along the center aisle, speaking loudly and gesturing toward the plan's presenters.
Mayor Ralph Suozzi opened the meeting by saying its purpose was to hear the applicant's presentation and residents' concerns, and that no formal action was to be taken.
Mansion attorney Kathleen Deegan Dickson spoke for about 30 minutes as to the details of the proposal, which would divide the grounds into three parcels and place 46 homes on 17 acres in the northeast corner of the property.
Several audience members called for public comments to be heard before the plan's other five presenters gave their spiels. Suozzi asked the applicant to present the remaining material in a timely manner, and after another 30-minute period it was residents' turn to have the floor.
One after another - mainly homeowners living on streets neighboring the mansion property - approached the podium with concerns ranging from population density to landscaping, and traffic dangers to potential drainage problems.
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Nina Randall of the Lattingtown Ponds development, which borders the property's eastern side and has a single entry and exit point, asked why the proposal called for two along Lattingtown Road. The reply was that the city's code was an issue, and Deegan Dickson said that safety was the main concern.
Several residents addressed the proposal's inclusion of a walking and bike path which would run along the inside of the estate's wall and split-rail fence on its western half, and would be open to all city residents. Deegan Dickson said the path would ring that portion of the property and "die" on Lattingtown Road.
A resident responded: "The operative word here is 'dies,'" citing the dangers posed to the many bikers who already ride down Dosoris Lane and Lattingtown Road.
Suozzi said the idea originated with his request.
"That was my ask because I drive down that road a lot and I see the dynamic of cars, trucks and bikes there," he said.
Another concern raised was that the development was being presented as a solution for an area that is overgrown and has been used as a dumping ground, while such conditions exist because the property's owners had neglected that area.
Suozzi and another speaker said that space's neglect existed since the Pratt family's ownership 40 years ago and should not be placed solely on the shoulders of the current owners.
Michael Stanco, a resident of a different part of the city, said there was one aspect missing from the comments he had heard thus far.
"I am in favor of preservation," he said. "The mansion being razed is far worse than this compromise."
At least one person raised the issue of the mansion's financial state and viability as a continued commercial enterprise, which was not directly discussed. Suozzi and several residents noted the 1991 dynamiting of the Morgan Mansion after it was sold, and cautioned against another such loss of city history if the former Pratt Mansion were to fail and fall into different hands.
The success of the proposed development in preserving the remaining features of the estate was questioned by several people, including an architect who said he has done dozens of projects like this. He was skeptical of the idea that the 46 homes would sell for $1 million each, guessing none would net more than $650,000.
Tony Gallego, who owns Gill Associates Photography in Glen Cove, defended the Mansion's owners and their support of local businesses.
"They could use anyone they want. They use local vendors," he said.
Gallego said the Mansion's failure as a business would have a ripple effect that would affect people in Glen Cove beyond the property's neighbors.
"This is not a demon corporation...Don't demonize them. These are good people there - reasonable people. Let's work with them," he said.
For more information on the proposal, including a walk-through visual simulation, visit www.northmanorestates.com.
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