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Planners modify implementation strategy for the Orchard

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After soliciting public comment at an open house on Dec. 6, urban planners working with Glen Cove’s Community Development Agency have adjusted its draft implementation plan to revitalize a deteriorating area of the city. On Jan. 22, the City Council voted 6-1 to approve the revised plan and begin a state environmental quality review. Councilwoman Marsha Silverman was the only opposing vote.

The area, designated a Brownfield Opportunity Area, encompasses the city’s Orchard neighborhood, Cedar Swamp Road, the Sea Cliff Avenue industrial corridor and the Glen Street Long Island Rail Road Station. The revitalization plan seeks to define how the area could be improved and offer developers recommendations to do so that are supported by the community.

Ann Fangmann, the CDA’s executive director, said that she and other planners “heard the public loud and clear” at the open house. The resulting changes to the plan were based on residents’ input. One request was to make the draft implementation document more user-friendly, and as a result, the revised document includes a readable executive summary of the plan, as well as visuals and graphics.

Kathy Eiseman, a partner at the environmental planning firm Nelson, Pope and Voorhis, said the new plan also eliminates an initial proposal to reduce the minimum lot size for a town house in the Orchard neighborhood from 15,000 square feet to 9,500. “It would make it easier for townhome development to occur by keeping the size the same,” she said.

Fangmann said that a 15,000-square-foot lot with six townhouses and adequate on-site parking is “physically feasible” for the neighborhood. She added that feedback on reducing the minimum lot size was 50-50, with half of city residents in favor of the reduction.

Council members also voted to have the city assume lead agency status on the plan, which gives it the authority to issue a positive declaration, in accordance with the State Environmental Quality Review Act, and initiate the preparation of an environmental impact statement (see box). Fangmann said that residents would have the opportunity to review and comment on the impact statement until Feb. 15.

Resident Gail Waller expressed concern about the drastic changes that the plan recommends. “Nelson and Pope doesn’t live here, and for the majority of people who showed up [to the open house], this is their Orchard, and they’re not in favor of what’s going on,” she said. “This is the core of Glen Cove, and the people that were there were incensed and upset about what was happening. The old-timers are brokenhearted.”

Fangmann countered by saying that the CDA had received written feedback that the planners “weren’t doing enough.”

Former City Councilman Roderick Watson said he worried that new development in the area would drive residents away. “People are worried that they’re not going to have a place to live,” he said. “Glen Cove has always been about bringing in the new but respecting the old, but there’s a lot of development happening here, and I know for a fact that a lot of people won’t be able to afford to live there.”

Fangmann said that a public hearing on the plan would be held in March.