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Glen Cove faces deadline to rezone, revitalize Orchard neighborhood

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At a pre-council meeting Tuesday, urban planners working with the Glen Cove Community Development Agency presented a draft implementation plan for revitalizing a deteriorating area of the city, and told council members that they had until next July to approve the plan and begin implementing its zoning recommendations.

The area in question, designated a Brownfield Opportunity Area, encompasses the Orchard neighborhood of Glen Cove and surrounding areas, including Cedar Swamp Road, the Sea Cliff Avenue industrial corridor and the Glen Street Long Island Rail Road Station.

Kathy Eiseman, a partner at the planning firm Nelson, Pope and Voorhis, led the presentation. She provided council members with a printout of the details of the draft plan so they could follow along as she summarized aloud. This reporter asked for a copy of the printout, but was told by Ann Fangmann, the Community Development Agency’s executive director, “We aren’t giving these out to the public.” The Herald Gazette has obtained the document through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The most heavily residential section of the area is the Orchard, measuring less than one square mile, where rentals outnumber ownership by approximately two to one. One element of the plan, as Eiseman described it, would be to modify building codes to allow four townhouses, “almost like brownstones,” she said, on each 9,500 square feet, or two parcels’ worth, of land. Under current regulations, developers would need to merge three parcels in order to do that.

Beyond that, said Eiseman’s co-presenter, Max Stach, also a partner at Nelson, Pope and Voorhis, given the area’s “narrow streets and parking requirements … You really can’t do more than a single-family home” on those lots. “You need to have a certain amount of property before you can fit everything,” Stach said.

Councilwoman Pamela Panzenbeck asked Eiseman and Stach, “What happens to all the little homes that are in the neighborhood?” if the plan moves forward.

Ultimately, Eiseman said, “It would require those to be demolished and sold.” Councilman Kevin Maccarone said the owners would probably have to be bought out.

Stach said, in the context of “incentivizing development,” that the city could increase its code enforcement efforts in the Orchard neighborhood, specifically against those residences that were illegally housing “more than two families, maybe under the table.” He did not clarify how more code enforcement would lead to development.

In addition to the Orchard, the draft implementation plan recommends mixed-use, “transit oriented development” near the Glen Street train station, and a “retail regional commercial center, and possibly light industrial space,” along the Sea Cliff Avenue corridor, pending remediation of the three contaminated superfund sites there.

A final draft of the implementation plan should be ready for the City Council’s approval by December, according to Eiseman.

“The reason that you’re just seeing us now,” she told the council, “is that we just finished the [plan], but we’ve been working on this stuff for a while.” She cited the recent sale of the Coles school, which the Brownfield Opportunity Area steering committee — comprising state and local agencies and stakeholders — has apparently played a part in.

She added, “We’ve been working with the city for two and a half years on implementation.”

Once the plan is approved, Eiseman said, a series of other benchmarks, particularly zoning adjustments, must be made before a state-defined July 2019 deadline. The consequences of missing the deadline are unclear, but Eiseman said she believed the city could meet its requirements by March.