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Villa decision tabled by City Council, again

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The Glen Cove City Council was supposed to vote on Tuesday night on whether to forward a proposal for The Villa at Glen Cove on to the city’s Planning Board, but the vote was noticeably absent from the council’s agenda.

The proposal, made by Livingston Development, would change the Villa project from 176 condomimum to 217 rental units.

Mayor Tim Tenke said the council wanted to seek further legal advice on whether all council members were eligible to vote on the measure.

Tenke said that representatives of the developer had made accusations against a member of the council, requesting that the member recuse herself from the vote due to possible bias. The member in question is Councilwoman Marsha Silverman, whose home, on Rooney Court, is adjacent to the Villa project property. In November 2017, Livingston filed an $11.3 million defamation lawsuit against her and her wife, Roni Epstein, in Nassau County Supreme Court. The case was dismissed in January 2019, and Livingston is now appealing.

Epstein said she was glad to see that the vote was not on the agenda, so the city could determine whether Daniel Livingston’s application should go to the Planning Board. There has been much discussion at the last four meetings about whether the city charter indicates that the application must be passed on to the Planning Board regardless of a vote by City Council members, or if they can keep it from moving forward.

“I am hopeful that the city is taking this extra time to do the proper due diligence that will result in a decision that is in the best interest of the community,” Epstein said after Tuesday’s meeting.

At the Feb. 11 council meeting, Councilman Rocco Totino suggested the decision on Livingston’s application be tabled so the council could consider information provided by Livingston’s attorney, Kathleen Deegan Dickson, that week. Four other council members and Tenke voted to table the issue. Silverman abstained.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Totino said it was good that the decision was stricken from the agenda. “It’s always great for the city to cross their T’s and dot their I’s,” he said. “The last thing we need to do is vote on something where there would be legal consequences where the city could be held accountable. It’s good to have outside legal counsel to bring in their expert opinion [regarding Silverman].”

The council originally approved Livingston’s plan for condominiums in 2017. Two years later, however, the company applied to replace the condo units with rental apartments, most of them one-bedroom apartments. Livingston purchased another half-acre lot adjacent to the Glen Cove Avenue property from the Glen Cove Boys & Girls Club, which it is seeking to include in the development.

The proposal for parking has also changed, to include two additional floors in an underground lot and the elimination of a valet-parking system. Deegan Dickson said at a Feb. 4 pre-council meeting that the rest of the project would remain the same, with two buildings of apartments, an indoor pool, a pet run, a picnic area, a fitness center and a bocce court. Livingston stressed that the exterior of the proposed buildings would remain largely unchanged. 

The alteration in Livingston’s plans has caused an uproar among residents concerned about overdevelopment. Many of them spoke during a two-hour public comment period at the Feb. 11 City Council meeting.

“Their threshold for being OK with more apartments has ended,” Councilman Gaitley Stevenson-Mathews said after that meeting. “I just think people feel enough is enough, and for that reason I think the response from the audience is understandable.”

Tenke said he expects the council to be ready to vote on whether to pass Livingston’s application on to the Planning Board at the council’s next meeting on March 10.

      Ronny Reyes contributed to this story.