No matter what your opinion regarding the proposed mega-development at Garvies Point, you might be surprised to discover that Michael Zarin, the project’s “Special Counsel” whom Glen Cove has been paying for years*, makes statements which seem completely contradictory in regards to developments on Long Island.
It seems that while Mr. Zarin has been working so hard to discredit the points made by those who question the development at Garvies Point, he appears to have employing the same arguments to help stop another development just a few miles away.
We’re speaking about changes and re-development that NYIT wished to make at the campus in Old Westbury. In this matter, Mr. Zarin and his firm were retained by the Villages of Brookville and Old Brookville to prevent the college from being able to expand and add a dormitory.
In other the words, the attorney arguing for massive development in Glen Cove has been simultaneously arguing against minor development in Brookville.
But it’s not just Zarin’s seemingly shameless duplicity that might raise eyebrows. It’s that the lawyer seemed to employ the same logic and reasoning to stop the NYIT project that he repeatedly claims have no merit in the Garvies Point development.
What were some of Mr. Zarin’s concerns regarding NYIT’s proposed expansion?
Well, traffic for one. And ironically, it’s traffic on Northern Blvd and Rt 107 that he cites to torpedo the school’s redevelopment – the very thoroughfares that will suffer interminable traffic increases if the proposed development at Garvies Point proceeds as planned!
Tell us, Mr. Zarin, how will enrollment of up to 7,500 students at NYIT apparently cripple Northern Blvd, but a high-density development of 1,140 units and around 3,000+ more cars in Glen Cove have little to no deleterious effects? Here’s one quote about NYIT’s expansion:
"At the very least...a supplemental analysis of each route shown in the average travel time studies should be undertaken to determine whether the level of service at all intersection along route A would experience an unacceptable increase..."
Now given the size, scope and number of amendments and changes made at the proposed development at Garvies Point, would Zarin — if he were addressing this form a logical, unbiased point of view — not agree such an analysis is warranted for Garvies Point as well?
This particular example is especially egregious, considering Glen Cove’s mayor is on public record stating an incorrect figure regarding the wait increases we’ll all face at the intersection of Glen Cove Road and Northern Blvd, if the project comes to fruition. Mayor Spinello has stated an increase of six seconds, while the actual figure in the FEIS is a 26 second increase. Oops.
Here’s more from Zarin regarding NYIT:
"In Old Brookville, for example...the addition... will change travel hours and conditions on Valentine's Lane. Valentine's Land is a residential street winding through some of the nicest neighborhoods in Old Brookville... As a result of the project, however, Valentine's Lane would provide a "cut through" for NYIT students traveling..."
Of course one of the biggest ironies with this one is that Scott Rechler, the RXR chairman hell-bent on forcing this massive development on the North Shore, is himself a resident of Old Brookville. I guess traffic and congestion are ok for places like Glen Cove, Roslyn Harbor, Locust Valley and Sea Cliff, but not — gasp — Old Brookville! Have we got that right, Scott?
Here, Zarin cites a precedent:
Cnty of Orange vs. Vill of Kiryas Joel:
Where an agency fails or refuses to take to undertake necessary analyses...or delaysa full and complete consideration of relevant areas of environmental concern...the SEQRA findings statement approving the FEIS [financial impact statement] must be vacated as arbitrary and irrational.
Golly. Is this not rather similar to what the current lawsuit against Glen Isle Partners trying to stop this development is driving at? That the amended plan RXR and Glen Cove have adopted require additional study — that the project’s proponents are essentially using an outdated FEIS which now requires “a full and complete consideration of relevant areas of environmental concern?” By George – that quote could have been in the lawsuit!
So, Michael Zarin, as Glen Cove’s Environmental lawyer, argued that a supplemental impact study must be conducted to examine the traffic impact upon the Village of Old Brookville, the Village of Brookville, and the residential roads surrounding the NYIT campus, which is located on Northern Blvd. approximately one mile east of the intersection of Glen Cove Road and Northern Blvd.
Incredibly, as recently as this past November 2015, Glen Cove’s environmental counsel offered Glen Cove Road as an alternative route to be utilized by the increased student enrollment. Not only does there seem to be hypocrisy here, but one can also sense the callous, “let them eat cake” worldview and Zarin and RXR…
So which is it, Mr. Zarin? A small development bordering Old Brookville must be stopped due to potential increases in traffic, but an 1,110 unit development including two 140′ tall towers? Well, no traffic concerns there. Have we got it straight?
Just one more quote, as I know these make for tedious reading:
The NYSDEC has long instructed that "[t]he issue of 'community character' cannot necessarily be viewed in isolation and may include a myriad of diverse components." In re Palumbo Block Co, 2001... "a number of other resources should be assessed. . . to enable a more thorough description of a community's character."
Of course I’m not an attorney, but couldn’t a citation such as this apply to Long Island’s Gold Coast too? Does a proposed 1.8 million square foot development with 11-story towers and a 3-story parking garage affect the “community character” of the North Shore?
Now we all understand that lawyers may make career changes in their lives, and that’s alright. Perhaps a district attorney moves to become a criminal defense attorney, for example. Or maybe a corporate lawyer “switches sides” and becomes an environmental lawyer. And of course every legal matter is different.
But, when an attorney makes two completely contradictory arguments at the same time, solely for profit, well, is not fair to question his character? And the virtue of a City and developer that employs him?
Based on the above, I guess if I had hired Michael Zarin before the City of Glen Cove, he’d be railing against the development at Garvies Point and telling us why it shouldn’t proceed, right? Pathetic.
Glen Cove residents have a right to ask: why has our Garvies Point attorney, who we’ve spent so much tax money on for so many years, seemingly been contradicting himself all along?
And this is precisely why those of us against this misguided development will ultimately prevail — for people like Scott Rechler, Reginald Spinello and Michael Zarin, it’s about Big Money. But for us residents, it’s about love of our community and respecting a way of life. And those, Mr. Rechler & Mr. Zarin, are not not sale.
* Special Bonus! Enquiring Minds Want to Know: Could Westchester-based Michael Zarin’s reported long-standing friendship with Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs be one of the reasons he’s been on a taxpayer-funded retainer with Glen Cove for years? RXR has recently contributed $100,000 to the Nassau County Democratic Committee…