Peter Nichols On The Meyer’s Farm Deal & TDR’s

Filed under: News,OPINION |
Here are a few miscellaneous thoughts regarding the Meyer’s Farm deal:
This has more to do with ‘equal protection under the law’ than it does with TDR’s, RMM’s and RM3’s.  Take your pick, but the law should apply equally to everyone – not favor the well connected, the loudest screamers or those trying to look smart by tossing around abbreviations.
By insisting that this is a unique situation and that other Huntington residents should not be worried about future TDR’s increasing density in their areas, proponents are proving that this deal is nothing more than ‘spot zoning’ or ‘contract zoning’,  which can be contested in New York.
Just because there has been a request for a park going back to 2001, it does not mean that one group has a greater legal claim to open space than any other resident in Huntington.
If the BAPS bought the land with the intention of constructing a temple, then anyone who opposed it should deal with them directly and leave the rest of us out of it.  In other words, don’t use taxpayer monies to pay off the landowner because you “always wanted a park.”  I have a 320 bed nursing home 200 feet from my front door on land that was formerly “1 acre” zoned.  Where’s my park?
The ‘fuzzy’ math used to justify this deal reminds me of another land purchase consisted of $24 in trinkets.
The logic used by some claiming that more open space will be created as a result of the town purchasing Meyer’s Farm from the BAPS  does not take into account the fact that the number of people per square foot in this area will skyrocket.  How is that a ‘win-win’ for an already saturated hamlet?  Suppose we build a 40 story office tower on half that footprint?  Would that be a ‘win-win’?
As an unincorporated hamlet, Melville has no control over its zoning.  We are at the mercy of special interests, parents that parade their children around town hall and ‘busy bodies’ looking to protect their own neighborhoods by encouraging development in other areas.  Leave the kids at home.  They should not be used as ‘human shields’.
The permit process seems to insulate the dealmakers from any long term consequences.  Having government approval seems to get everyone off the hook except for those who live and work near the future temple and senior housing.
Many people seem to forget the old saying ‘what goes around, comes around’ when it pertains to this arrangement.  Avalon Bay opponents who support the Meyer’s Farm deal should never complain about down zoning again.
It appears that the Open Space Bond Act is nothing more than a political slush fund used to grease the squeaky wheels.
It is a fine line between using “discretion” and being “arbitrary and capricious”.  The article 78 that will be filed will point this out in greater detail.
After looking at an aerial view on Google maps, there is no other area in Huntington that has more high density housing, industry and congestion than the area they want to dump the temple and senior housing.
After previously ignoring requests to purchase Meyer’s Farm with Open Space money, all of a sudden the town board considers Meyer’s Farm an ideal candidate for a park just because the local civic group doesn’t want a temple?  Will the same consideration be given to other Huntington residents who oppose religious institutions building in their neighborhoods?
The ‘special groundwater protection area’ defense is bogus.   A lot of high density projects were built on land with those designations.
The precedent that is being set is: “I’ll get what I want by screwing another group who can’t defend themselves as good as we can.”   Isn’t government supposed to protect the minority as well as the majority?
The town board is the conduit for such thinking and, as such, sets a bad example.  But then again, what do we expect from the political class?
If Deshon Drive is rezoned from ‘light industry’ to ‘garden apartments’, that will contradict the town’s comprehensive plan, Horizons 202/20.  From that plan:
  • “Huntington…has become a mature, largely built out suburban community…”
  • The town needs to “reverse traffic congestion.”
  • Huntington should “Protect residential neighborhoods from intensification of uses.”  (that’s great for Sweet Hollow but not for other parts of Melville).
  • Huntington must “limit conversion of industrial property to other uses.”
  • “Huntington’s attractiveness as a place to live and locate a business is affected by factors such as traffic congestion and increase demand for costly services.”
Likewise, I’m sure proponents of this deal can cherry pick just as much in order to justify their positions.  Hence, the contradictions.
Most of the ‘neighborhood effects’ will only be felt by those who have not been considered in this deal – the residents who must bear the increase in traffic and pollution.

The police power vested in the town board through the zoning process (and justified by the Comprehensive Plan) often has unintended side effects that violate the property rights of homeowners.  My earnings are my rightfully earned property.  Squandering them in some land deal fiasco violates my right to keep what I earn and it should not be spent on such nonsense.

Constantly changing the rules of land use violates the constitution’s ‘equal protection clause’ because such changes extend privileges to the well connected few at the expense of the ‘unconnected’ many.
What ‘public purpose’ would the Sweet Hollow Park serve that other parks in the area don’t already serve?  Further, every community group is not entitled to a parochial playground funded by the taxpayers.  If you do it for one group, you have to do it for all.  That can get tricky – and expensive.
Solutions:Send the BAPS and the Sweet Hollow Civic group back to the drawing board.  No need to rush after all these years.  The developer can wait – unless, of course, there’s campaign money that will go somewhere else instead.
Any agreement should not involve taxpayer monies, a change of zoning or an increase in population on another side of town all in one deal.  A request for a park should be reviewed on its own merits and not ‘piggyback’ on some complex, taxpayer funded arrangement.

SaveHuntington will propose a resolution banning the practice of combining TDRs, open space funds and zone changes.

After that gets shot down, we’ll sue.
Peter Nichols is co-founder of SaveHuntington.com
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