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Letter: Say “No” To Vesting The Waterfront Project

The Waterfront Project is a public/private partnership. Both parties have a financial stake in its success but it has suffered a complete reversal from its original intent. The developer states in the FEIS, that economic times govern their decisions. As a business, the only thing that matters to them is their bottom line. Glen Cove’s responsibility is to its citizens and taxpayers.

Over the years, the developer has changed the project drastically. In a stunning reversal in 2011, the developer switched the vision of the project. The previous proposal described a high-density site, 65 percent for affluent condo owners (who, it was hoped, would become commuters on the city’s new ferry) and 35 percent rentals. Instead, in the 2011 proposal, 65 percent were to be offered as rentals to a work-force housing market and 35 percent would be marketed as high-end condos. Our mayor, planning board and city council approved this change.

By allowing this to take place, condo ownership has been deterred. Why would an affluent individual buy an expensive condo in a location only to be surrounded by a two-thirds population of low-income individuals? This reversal in the ratio of condo ownership to work-force housing also affected the doubtful success of the ferry because its ridership base of condo owners would become non-existent. 

Now, the developer is petitioning the city council for “vesting rights”.  The vested rights provision would protect the applicant’s rights, over a period of years, as yet not specified, from any possible zoning changes, which would render the project nonconforming. The developer already has legal and contractual rights. By granting additional vested rights, this administration and future administrations will lose their power and authority over specific vested issues. This willingness to transfer control over aspects of the project to the developer, unnecessarily, is both disturbing and illogical.  As the project continually evolves, so do its provisions and costs.  No one knows what the current, actual cost of the project is or will be or what it will look like in its final design.

The worst part of the project as it now stands is that it would change the entire character of the city, flooding it with thousands of low-income individuals. Instead of being the quaint little suburban city it once was, we would become an urban haven for thousands of low-income individuals. What was once a beautiful idea to revitalize a blighted area and transform it into a public amenity for the entire Glen Cove community, spurring economic development and expanding the local tax base, will now destroy us.  Flooding this city with literally thousands of underprivileged individuals, living in affordable and subsidized rental housing, does not bring prosperity to our door, nor does it enhance the image of Glen Cove. With poverty comes crime. Prospective homebuyers will not want to move here. Property values will decline and real estate taxes will climb, as this massive population growth overwhelms our schools, hospital, traffic, police, fire, water and sanitation departments, and our very character. The cure has become worse than the disease.

Instead of approving every request this developer makes, the time has come to say, “no”.  Let’s now take a stand. There are many unknown issues still to be proposed, presented and revealed. Do not reward them for the damage that we know yet awaits us. 

This is a non-partisan issue. Come to the next city council meeting on Tuesday, March 12, at 7:30 p.m.  Show your support by your presence. It’s time to become informed and involved.

Marie Rummo