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Funds Approved For Ferry Project

Concerns raised over “vested rights” amendment 

The Glen Cove city council approved a resolution to accept and use $1,876,000 in federal funds for the second phase of the ferry terminal project, which involves construction of the ferry terminal building, at a meeting Jan. 22. 

Councilman Reginald Spinello moved to table the resolution  until after a public hearing on a related water project, Spinello stressed that the ferry terminal project and and the waterfront project are linked. His motion was rejected in a 4-3 vote.

Councilman Timothy Tenke, who voted to pass the resolution on federal funding, and voted against tabling it, said, “These are two separate projects...it is the second phase, so it’s a logical progression.’

Spinello argued that, since the ferry project is way ahead of schedule, there was no rush to spend more money up front.

“The project has a lot of moving parts,” said Mayor Ralph Suozzi, adding that since the funding is already approved. 

A public hearing to discuss amending the zoning ordinance for the waterfront project was also held. The amendment would establish vested rights in the approved Master Development Plan, and was met with some opposition by both residents and city council members.

“It seems like overkill,” Spinello said of the amendment. “It’s like it’s protecting the developer more than us.”

The amendment would “provide for the establishment of certain statutory vested rights given the practical timing, cost, phasing and other considerations involved in implementing an approved Planned Unit Development Master Plan.” Additionally, the amendment would a establish an 18-month expiration date for a PUD Site Plan Approval in the waterfront district, as the zoning ordinance does not currently contain an expiration date specifically for PUD Site Plans.

City Attorney Michael Zarin explained that the developer has already invested 10 years and millions of dollars on the project, in cleaning up the site and doing various studies and site plans, which serve to benefit the city in the future.

“The vesting amendment builds upon that partnership,” Zarin said, adding that it is one of the few projects of this magnitude that has survived in these economic times, mainly because of the partnership between the developer and the city.

Councilman Anthony Gallo Jr. asked if not passing the amendment would be a “deal breaker” to which Zarin replied, “It is an important element to advancing the project.”

Spinello said he wanted more details about the money already spent as well as when to expect the city to “reap the rewards” of the project, a sentiment that was echoed by residents.

The hearing will remain open and continue at the Feb. 12 city council meeting.