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Parking lot at issue at Monte Nido Home

Glen Cove residents file appeal before BZA

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The Monte Nido group home for people with eating disorders finished paving its new parking lot recently, nine months after the center opened at 1 St. Andrews Lane in Glen Cove. At a Nov. 7 meeting, however, the Glen Cove Board of Zoning Appeals heard an argument by residents to reject the group home’s permit to build the lot, and no decision was reached at that session.

Jennifer Gallagher, Monte Nido’s chief development officer, said the lot would be ready for use in the coming weeks. It measures 108 by 40 feet, and will have 12 parking spaces.

Residents have complained that Monte Nido’s driveway was overcrowded, and that its employees and patients were parking on local streets. Gallagher refuted those claims, but said that the parking lot would help ease tensions between the home and local residents.

“We’ve never parked on Highland Road or St. Andrews Lane,” Gallagher said. “We’ve had to park in public lots, and one of the nearby churches has been a lovely help during this transition.”

Monte Nido’s original application to operate as a group home at the site was unanimously rejected in February 2018 by the Glen Cove City Council, but the State Su-preme Court later overturned that decision. Then, in September of this year, the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals ruled that residents could not be housed on the second story of the group home’s garage.

The George and Joan Hawkins Trust, a local group formed by a couple who live next door, filed the appeal against Monte Nido, seeking to block issuance of the permit to pave the parking lot. The Hawkinses’ daughter-in-law, Nancy Hawkins, argued that city code does not allow businesses to operate in residential neighborhoods. But the state’s Padavan Law, which allows exemptions from local zoning codes for group homes as long as they meet state codes, protects Monte Nido, essentially treating it as a residence.

According to city code, no more than 20 percent of any residential lot may be paved or used for parking, walkways or driveways.

Nancy Hawkins expressed anger that Monte Nido had gone ahead and built the parking lot before the BZA had reached a decision. “They’re allowed to do this now because you people did nothing,” Hawkins said, speaking to the City Council at a Nov. 12 meeting. “I’m disgusted . . . and I’m so disappointed.”

Gallagher said that Monte Nido planned an appeal in Nassau County Supreme Court of the BZA’s ruling rejecting the use of the room above the center’s garage for housing. Kathleen Deegan Dickson, an attorney representing Monte Nido, explained that the property’s previous owner was granted a variance by the BZA to use the second floor of the garage as a guest room. She noted that Monte Nido had already removed a kitchen there in order to add two beds to the one already there.

“These beds are needed by people,” Deegan Dickson said. “For the BZA to say it’s not permitted is just reprehensible.”

Although Monte Nido’s license to operate as a group home calls for 14 beds for its clients, Gallagher said the license would not be in jeopardy even if the home lost the appeal on the living quarters decision. But she and Deegan Dickson said they were confident that they would win on appeal.

“It’s unlikely to be turned down,” Gallagher said. “Even if it were, we wouldn’t be affected.”

The deadline for Monte Nido to appeal is Nov. 28. The BZA will continue to hear the case on the parking permit at its December meeting, the date of which is yet to be announced.