The Village of Roslyn Harbor has filed an Article 78 suit in New York State Supreme Court, one designed to compel the Village of Roslyn to require a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for Bryant Landing, the proposed Forest City Daly senior housing development.
The suit was filed on Friday, Jan. 16. Roslyn Harbor received a Temporary Restraining Order on any senior housing construction. On Wednesday, Feb. 4, the courts will decide whether to continue the TRO. According to James Gibbon, an attorney for the Village of Roslyn, a final decision on the entire matter should take place in March or April.
Once again, traffic concerns were a driving force behind the village's decision to file suit. According to village officials, peak-time traffic on Roslyn Harbor's two main thoroughfares is already frequently backed up nearly all the way to Glenwood Landing and Glen Head, a stretch of road that covers the entire length of Roslyn Harbor.
"This project will make the Northern Boulevard/Bryant Avenue intersection more congested than Rockefeller Center at Christmas," said Roslyn Harbor Mayor Gerson Strassberg. "It will bring morning and evening traffic throughout our village to a virtual standstill and have a dramatic impact on neighboring communities, including Roslyn."
Forest City Daly, when completed, would be located under the Roslyn Viaduct, in the land that stands on the southern end of Hempstead Harbor in downtown Roslyn, just over the Roslyn Harbor Village line. In 1999, various Village of Roslyn boards accepted an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a proposal at the downtown location.
That location, as Roslyn Harbor officials recall, was an assisted living and congregate care complex for seniors, many of whom would have required support services, such as help with dressing and preparing meals. In Roslyn Harbor's view, few residents in this facility would have been able to provide their own transportation.
The current proposal reduces the number of the buildings from three to two. It also reduces the number of residents in the entire development, and it changes the status of one of the buildings from assisted living to independent living.
The original plan called for 90 units of assisted living, which now would be changed to 50 units of independent living for people 55 years and older. In all, the total number of units has been reduced from 250 to 210.
This proposal, Roslyn Harbor officials maintain, is designed for a more active group of seniors and includes both rental and condominium units. In the condominium units, only one resident would be required to be at least age 55. According to the developer, less units would decrease the square footage of Bryant Landing by 1,000 feet. As such, the traffic and other environmental impacts of this new proposal would be less significant than those of the earlier plan. And so, a new EIS was deemed unnecessary.
Roslyn Harbor officials disagree with that assessment. They have asked the court to require that Village of Roslyn officials conduct a new SEIS, one that examines the traffic impact of the current proposal.
"An SEIS will define the extent of the problem and point to solutions that will benefit Roslyn Harbor, as well as its neighbors in Roslyn, Glenwood Landing, Glen Head, and beyond."
James Gibbon, an attorney for the Village of Roslyn, defended the village's actions in approaching the Forest City project, not just recently, but over the entire five-year process.
He said that in 1997, the Village of Roslyn Harbor was advised that the Village of Roslyn was considering an application for senior housing. Public hearings, environmental and traffic studies were made and the project, in 1999, was approved by all the necessary boards. In the succeeding years, most of the work on the project concerned environmental cleanup and waterfront restoration.
In October 2003, the Forest City people asked the village to consider three amendments to the construction agreement. As already listed, those amendments would reduce the size of the buildings, their number, and the function of one of them.
Once again, the village, Gibbons said, conducted environmental and traffic studies, while also holding three public hearings on the proposed amendments. He disputed the Village of Roslyn Harbor's contention that Roslyn officials didn't conduct the process correctly.
"We did it correctly," Gibbons said, adding that the village would have welcomed input from Roslyn Harbor officials on matters that concern them. Roslyn Harbor officials, Gibbon said, "didn't present any traffic experts during the hearings" that discussed the amendments to the agreement. They also did not provide any traffic studies to the Village of Roslyn in 1999 either, he claimed.
Finally, Gibbon admitted that village officials have been "taken aback by their [Roslyn Harbor officials] way of doing business," while again reiterating that Roslyn board members conducted the most recent traffic review "in accordance of the law."