Gavies Point as a Cautionary Tale

In 2011, the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Garvies Point Waterfront Development was finalized by RXR.  Although many individuals and organizations expressed concern over the cursory treatment of environmental issues–including treatment of contaminated soil and groundwater and lack of storm-water planning–the environmental impact statement was not challenged and the community’s window to do so expired. It was not until the developer submitted changes to the plans in 2015 (modifying building design and locations, and altering plans for stormwater management) that the Committee for a Sustainable Waterfront was formed to challenge this misplaced monstrosity of a development.

The Committee for a Sustainable Waterfront sought a supplemental environmental impact statement to study the adverse environmental impacts of the new plans. Unfortunately, however, the bar for success in such an action is high and we did not prevail in the Supreme Court (the lowest court in the state). Our challenge is pending appeal and we remain committed to exploring alternative courses of action to ensure that the development proceeds in a sustainable, law-abiding, and conscientious manner.

While researching the facts surrounding this process, and in the drafting of the arguments and comment letters to the relevant agencies, we uncovered a lot of information about the development. We will be sharing those findings over the coming months so stay tuned!

Further, we remain committed to fighting the overall scale of this development. There are still areas to challenge, it is a shaky project from every standpoint. From the adverse impacts on the environment to the shaky bond financing. It is important to note that the DEC/EPA and US Army Corp of Engineers have not yet issued the permits necessary for the project to move forward in its entirety.  We will be here, representing the community and the environment.

Thank you for your ongoing support,
The Committee For a Sustainable Waterfront

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Urgent: Quick Email Letter Writing Campaign

ALL NECESSARY PERMITS REQUIRED FOR RXR TO CONTINUE BUILDING

HAVE NOT YET BEEN ISSUED!

PLEASE JOIN OUR LETTER-WRITING CAMPAIGN…
 

Just last week, we once again confirmed that the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) & the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) have not issued the necessary permits for RXR’s Garvies Point development. We need your support for a letter writing campaign using the following three sample letters. Feel free to copy, paste and email.

Just a minute of your time to send a few emails can make a difference!

Thank You!

Committee for a Sustainable Waterfront

 

1) Please copy and send the following letter to:

roger.evans@dec.ny.gov
heidi.dudek@dec.ny.gov

Subject: Wetlands and Glen Cove/Garvies Point Project

Dear NYS DEC,

I am writing in support of the comment letter(s) submitted by the Committee for a Sustainable Waterfront opposing the developer’s request for permit(s) for the Garvies Point project. I believe that a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement should be prepared.

Additionally, I’d like to call attention to the fact that this project does not conform to the NYSDEC’s recently issued (8/31/17) Tidal Wetlands Guidelines (http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/fish_marine_pdf/dmrlivingshoreguide.pdf) nor with the NYSDEC’s recently issued (11/16/17) statement regarding wetlands smaller than 12.4 acres.

Thank you.
2) Please copy and send the following letter to:

naomi.j.handell@usace.army.mil

Subject: Project # NAN-2015-00962-EHA RXR Glen Isle

Dear Ms. Handell,

I am writing in support of the comment letter(s) submitted by the Committee for a Sustainable Waterfront opposing the developer’s request for permit(s) for the above referenced project. I believe that a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement should be prepared.

Thank you.

3) Please copy and send the following letter to:Dderiggiwhitton@yahoo.com
lavinec@assembly.state.ny.us
Marcelli@nysenate.gov
lcurran@nassaucountyny.gov
kabrahams@nassaucountyny.gov
sbynoe@nassaucountyny.gov
csolages@nassaucountyny.gov
dford@nassaucountyny.gov
cwgaylor@nassaucountyny.gov
hkopel@nassaucountyny.gov
vmuscarella@nassaucountyny.gov
rnicolello@nassaucountyny.gov
ebirnbaum@nassaucountyny.gov
jkennedy@nassaucountyny.gov
ngonsalves@nassaucountyny.gov
lschaefer@nassaucountyny.gov
ddunne@nassaucountyny.gov
jjacobs@nassaucountyny.gov
rmwalker@nassaucountyny.gov
dmackenzie@nassaucountyny.gov
srhoads@nassaucountyny.gov
BosworthJ@northhempsteadny.gov

Subject: Glen Cove – Garvies Point Waterfront Development

Dear County Executive Elect Curran & Nassau County Legislators,

I am writing to inform you that the Garvies Point waterfront development planned for the City of Glen Cove VIOLATES recently issued state guidelines (http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/fish_marine_pdf/dmrlivingshoreguide.pdf) which are critical to the protection of vulnerable Nassau County shorelines. I implore you to adhere to the state mandates for the well-being and safety of all Nassau County residents.

Thank you.

Take a moment to send the third letter to the following elected officials:

  1. Contact Governor Cuomo’s Office using this link
  2. Contact Nassau County Executive’s Office using this link
  3. Contact Senator Marcellino’s Office using this link
  4. Contact Assemblyman Lavine using this link

Every email helps!

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Disappointing News on Article 78

Disappointing news…
By now you may have heard that we did not prevail in our most recent Article 78 against RXR, the City of Glen Cove, et al.

The Committee for a Sustainable Waterfront (CSW) respectfully disagrees with the court’s decision. We are exploring our options up to and including an appeal. This Article 78 was about the City’s approval of a completely different stormwater management system that was never subjected to an environmental review. The fact that the court found for the defendant does not alter the reality that there has not been an environmental review of this plan since 2011… that review was inadequate and is now stale. The court’s decision does not change the fact that as recently as this summer toxic waste was discovered spewing out of an outfall directly into Glen Cove Creek.

It doesn’t change the fact that the size and scale of this development will destroy the entire North Shore region that is already choking from traffic congestion. Many, many residents of the area are opposed to it. It doesn’t change the fact that the rosy financial projections are projections over 40 years. Projections are often wrong, especially that far out, and any miscalculation in revenue or costs could be a disaster for the City of Glen Cove. It doesn’t change the fact that the impact to the School District alone could be far worse than projected. They only account for 53 new students coming from more than 1100 residences. If more children enroll in schools than projected as a result of this plan, there could be millions of dollars of shortfall to the district which will have to be made up by the taxpayers of Glen Cove.

Although the court decided against us in this action, and we are weighing our options, we are confident that the pending appeals of the original Citizens lawsuit and the Village of Sea Cliff lawsuit will be successful. The fight for a more sustainable plan will not end with this setback.

Thank you all so much for your continued support and please stay tuned for further updates.

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Comment Letter to DEC Division from David Berg, Plaintiff

Dear Mr. Evans:

     Please accept this correspondence as a comment regarding the complete application for DEC ID # 1-2805-00193/00001 – the Glen Cove Creek Waterfront Development Project.

    The SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) review done in 2009 for RXR’s waterfront development project by the lead agency (the City’s Planning Board- which admitted to having no expertise to evaluate such impacts) should now be considered INVALID as critical aspects of the project’s design and scope have changed since then in very significant ways. A SEQRA review of the impacts identified in NYSDEC’s Notice of Completed Application (dated 12/21/2016) has YET TO BE CONDUCTED.

     The original proposed stormwater management plan (SWMP) was redesigned after the DEC expressed concern about infiltration relative to the site and the possibility that pollution from the contaminated soil could flow into Glen Cove Creek. The new SWMP uses collection, treatment by filtration (“Jellyfish” filters) and discharge as opposed to infiltration and retention.

      RXR’s own consultants admitted the new Stormwater Management System will likely be overwhelmed in large storms, prolonged winter flooding and snowmelt- risking the mixing and discharge of polluted and treated water into Glen Cove Creek. This pollution will harm marine wildlife, including our recently resurgent shellfish in the harbor. The overall impacts will be increased nitrogen and phosphorus loadings delivered to the Creek. RXR admitted that the Jellyfish filters will only remove about half the nutrient loadings. The only way to protect the Creek from eutrophication would be to reduce the volume of stormwater being discharged to the Creek by reducing the density of development, and leaving more open space.

      To exacerbate the matter, Nassau County’s waiver of the 8 inch stormwater runoff rule for this project is foolish and does nothing to account for the predicted range of sea level rise as well as higher and more frequent storm surges with greater amounts of runoff. The DEC’s own Tidal Wetlands Guidance Document wisely warns planners and developers to take these factors into account.

      At a public meeting on December 27, 2016 the Glen Cove City Council acknowledged that it doesn’t have the expertise to deal with their own coastal erosion management issues. At the same meeting, the City Council claimed that RXR’s waterfront development project falls under the jurisdiction of the city’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP). When questioned further, the city admitted that it does NOT HAVE an approved LWRP.

     I find it concerning that, as noted by both the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers, there is a significant amount of radioactive material in the sediment at the bottom of Glen Cove Creek- which has prevented the ACE from completing dredging of the Creek. The construction of new bulkhead and marina before the remediation of this problem and before completion of further pending remediation of pollution on the adjacent land by the EPA would seem, at best, imprudent, ill-advised and tragic for the health of the surrounding environment.

Thanks,

David Berg

Glen Cove, NY

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Comment Letter to The Glen Cove Planning Board 12/9/16

garvies-point-mayor-798x1024 draft-comment-letter-dec-9-2016

December 9, 2016

 

 

Thomas Scott, Chairman

Glen Cove Planning Board

City of Glen Cove

9 Glen Street

Glen Cove, New York 11542

Re:            Applications for a Planned Unit Development (PUD), Site Plan Approval (Phase Two) and Amended PUD Subdivision Approval for the proposed Garvies Point Waterfront Redevelopment Project encompassing 56 acres on the north side of Glen Cove Creek in the MW-3 Zoning District (#1 on the Planning Board’s December 6, 2016 Agenda)

Dear Mr. Scott and Fellow Planning Board Members:

On November 16, 2016, I wrote to the Board informing you and the members that providing the numerous and voluminous drawings, comments, details, renderings, etc. regarding a multitude of areas as stated in your Resolution, “bulkhead system, wetland plantings, marinas, docks, ecology pier, boardwalk and beach, and other shoreline improvements” and “the esplanade and all public amenity structures” a mere two (2) weeks before the date of the public hearing when Thanksgiving week falls within this time frame is utterly and horribly inadequate.

At the Planning Board meeting held on December 6, 2016, I reiterated this complaint, especially in light of the fact that most of the materials were not even available on the City’s website until the week after Thanksgiving. I also informed the Board that the minutes/transcript from Planning Board meetings are not made available to the public and can only be obtained by submitting a FOIL request which delays the receipt of critical information. I informed the Board   that I would like more time for an expert to be able to review the numerous submissions as well as time to be able to obtain the transcript from the meetings, before being able to submit comments. Even though I made this request, the Board voted to provide the public with only 14 days from the December 6, 2016 public hearing to submit comments.

During the SEQRA review process for this project, concerns were raised regarding the existence and treatment of the remaining contaminants in relation to the stormwater infiltration system.

The Planning Board responded to the comments raised by stating that there was no issue or concern because “Captains Cove and Li Tungsten have already been remediated and only small, localized hotspots may be cleaned up during construction. This minor additional cleanup will not have an appreciable effect on the groundwater dynamics and the design of the stormwater treatment system” (FEIS, Comment C-4).

This statement, conclusion and position of the Planning Board was completely incorrect as confirmed by the Developer’s own consultant who stated that the “New York State DEC has expressed concern about infiltration relative to the site and contamination on the site. As you know, the site has undergone quite a bit of cleanup for different contamination on the actual site, and through the process has determined that it’s possible that the contaminated soils could potentially increase contamination into the Creek.” (Transcript from Planning Board October 18, 2016 meeting, pg. 10.)

On November 29, 2106, Lorenzo Thantu from the USEPA confirmed that remediation is still being conducted upon “vast portions of the properties that were purchased by RXR on November 22nd” as opposed to the “minor additional cleanup” as stated by the Board (email attached)(emphasis mine).

The Board also stated in its FEIS response that “localized hotspots may be cleaned up during construction”, the EPA states that “RXR has yet to receive final environmental approvals from EPA and NYSDEC as remediation activities are still ongoing on vast portions of the properties that were purchased” (see email).

As of this date, the Board has not looked at, let alone given a hard look at the “infiltration relative to the site and contamination on the site” and thus a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement is required.

Ms. Ruskin, the Developer’s/Applicant’s consultant stated that the developer has “reevaluated the storm water design to treat the storm water, meet water quality standards, DEC water quality standards, through these different techniques; through green roofs, through the rain gardens that will have a liner, they will not have infiltration, also through a series of water quality treatment devices, which we have selected the jelly fish manufactured treatment device, to meet the water quality standards” (Tr. from Planning Board Meeting, October 18, 2016 at pg. 11)(emphasis mine).

The use of “different techniques” and a new storm water design requires this Board to conduct a Supplemental review, especially in light of the fact that no review was ever conducted regarding the infiltration relative to the contaminants.

Significantly, since the time when this Board first conducted its SEQRA review both the USEPA and the NYDEC amended and enhanced their clean-up remedies based upon additional contamination found in areas identified as recently as this year.

Thus, not only did this Board fail to study or give a hard look at the “infiltration relative to the site and contamination on the site” during its SEQRA review process, it never reviewed the infiltration relative to the newly discovered areas of contamination on the “vast portions” of the site and it never reviewed the “different [stormwater] techniques.”

By letter dated May 16, 2016, the Town of Oyster Bay wrote to this Board and confirmed that “[i]t does not appear that the impacts of the project amendments on water quality have been adequately addressed, in terms of stormwater management, including imperviousness bordering ecologically sensitive tidal wetlands, and measures to mitigate same .”

The Town of Oyster Bay, through its expert consultants, stated that this project should not “be held to the lowest possible standard for stormwater management given the size of the development and associated magnitude of stormwater runoff volume, and the site’s location adjoining critical coastal resources.”

 

Critically, the Town implored that:

A municipality’s stormwater program must ensure no increase of a listed pollutant of concern to waterbody on the New York State 303(d) List of Impaired Waterbodies. Glen Cove Creek was included on this List as of 2014; however, as a result of the cumulative effect of actions taken to abate stormwater impacts over the years, the Creek is slated for removal under a draft amended List released in January 2016. this should not be viewed as an easing of restrictions that provides an opportunity for additional impacts to be accommodated but, rather, should be treated as a hard-won environmental victory. On this basis, the project should be encouraged to include enhanced initiatives to protect and promote water quality improvements through proper stormwater management. It seems inconsistent that the project would be designed with only the bare minimum stormwater controls.

 

As Lead Agency for this Project, it is this Board’s responsibility to ensure that the environmental impacts have been given a hard look. The so-called waiver[1] of the 8” stormwater retention requirement received from the County of Nassau does not relieve this Board of examining the impacts of such waiver. As demonstrated by the County’s Resolutions of October 23, 204 (Resolution No. 9968-14) and Resolution No. 10021-15 (dated July 9, 2015), the County referred such impact determinations to this Board as Lead Agency. To date, this Board has never examined the impact of the waiver relative to the new stormwater design techniques and relative to the new information regarding the newly discovered areas of contamination.

The Developer’s Stormwater calculations submitted in October of 2016 state that on July 15, 2015 “hydrodynamic separator units was approved for use on this project in lieu of infiltration units in order to meet water quality requirements within this redevelopment project” and in the November 2016 Stormwater Management Summary, the Developer’s consultants state that Jellyfish Filter Devices “that features pretreatment and membrane filtration in a stand-alone system” will be installed.

Notably, New York does not have specific guidelines for BioFiltration systems and only three states have performed studies and research relative to the design (Minnesota, North Carolina and New Jersey).

Natural erosion and eliminating the known remaining contaminants has not been analyzed or studied. Seepage pits, chambers and infiltration – – – all are measures that will fail in the Captains Cove area where groundwater is close to the surface. When flooding overwashes the shoreline, or snowpack of 2-3 feet melts suddenly or rainfall exceeds 2 inches in a day (both events that have occurred numerous times in the past three years), these stormwater measures, which rely on some underground space, will flood and carry polluted groundwater directly into the Creek. There is no analysis of these likely situations in the SEQRA record nor in any of the follow-up stormwater calculations.

As development proceeds, more and more weight will be applied to the surface of areas with high, polluted groundwater, and this mass loading will change the movement of that groundwater. Much of this will seep towards the Creek and wetlands, increasing the pre-existing contaminant loading which has not been added to the calculations of the stormwater and remedial processes underway or projected for the future. And, as has just been demonstrated, the processes projected change from month to month.

It is this Board’s function, responsibility and purview as lead agency to make such determinations regarding these systems and their impacts. A supplemental environmental impact statement must be conducted based upon all of the foregoing reasons.

Sincerely,

/s/

 

Amy B. Marion, Esq.

 

 

[1] No written waiver has ever been provided to the public

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Response to The WSJ: Mega-Development Gets Under Way on Long Island

Letter in Response to Joseph De Avila’s article in
The Wall Street Journal: Mega-Development Gets Under Way on Long Island

by Amy Marion, Esq.
Dear Mr. De Avila:

I represent the more than 100 residents referred to in your article published on December 4, 2016 entitled “Mega-Development Gets Under Way on Long Island.” The facts as published are inaccurate and/or misleading.

The article states that a “cleanup that began in the 1990s is nearly done” when in fact Lorenzo Thantu from the EPA who oversees this project indicated in an email sent on November 29, 2016 at 4:45:44 pm that the developer “has yet to receive final environmental approvals from EPA and NYSDEC as remediation activities are still ongoing on vast portions of the properties that were purchased by RXR on November 22nd” (emphasis mine)(email can be provided upon request).

Furthermore, on October 18, 2016, the developer’s consultant stated at the City of Glen Cove’s Planning Board meeting that “the New York State DEC has expressed concern about infiltration relative to the site and contamination on the site” and that the DEC “has determined that it’s possible that the contaminated soils could potentially increase contamination into the Creek” (transcript can be provided upon request).

Additionally, your statement that “as part of the deal, the city agreed to issue $125 million in bonds to pay for public-infrastructure upgrades for the project, including park space and a marina” fails to realize or represent that since the inception of this project the public was told in no uncertain terms as stated in Amendment 4 of the Land Development Agreement that the developer would fund the public amenities and that the City would not have to put itself further in debt for this project. Equally troubling is the Mayor’s statement that “the economic benefits for Glen Cove outweigh concerns about increased traffic or changing the area’s character” when the financial projections would not even result in a realized benefit for years to come whereas presently the traffic has people leaving the area and avoiding the area in droves.
If you wish further information or actual factual documentation about this development, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you,
Amy B. Marion, Esq.
cc: Committee for a Sustainable Waterfront

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