Many Elwood Taxpayer Association Members Against Oaktree Development
Approximately eighty people attended the Elwood Taxpayers Association Meeting held at the Elwood Public Library located at the corner of Elwood Road and Jericho Turnpike. The hot topic on the agenda was the proposed senior housing development at the Oaktree Dairy property located on the west side of Elwood Road.
Walter Raab, Co-President of the association provided an update regarding the proposed 444 unit senior housing complex. He said that the application is currently being reviewed by the Town of Huntington Planning Board and that if the board approves the proposal then it would be taken up for consideration by the Huntington Town Board for final approval. Currently the Oaktree property is zoned for one acre housing and the proposal on the table would downzone the property to approximately 13 units to the acre. Mr. Raab also expressed that the project is on a “fast track” and may be before the Town Board within the next few months. According to Mr. Raab, Supervisor Frank Petrone is in full favor of the proposal and that he plans to vote yes to any such downzone. Supervisor Petrone was invited to attend the meeting but he declined the offer. Councilwoman Berland also did not attend. Councilman Cook, Councilman Mayoka and Councilman Cuthbertson were in attendance.
Another issue of concern is regarding traffic and associated traffic studies. Everybody virtually agreed that the traffic situation adjacent to the proposed development is horrendous. Many residents questioned that if the developer pays a consultant for such a traffic study, will it be done in an objective manner? Some discussion even took place as to whether or not an independent traffic study should be conducted by another entity other then the developer. The prospect of utilizing a traffic light as a form of mitigation to traffic buildup is now up in the air. Initially it appeared that the light would be part of the project but that is now in doubt as Elwood Road is a County road and a traffic survey is required to see if a light is justifiable.
In a show of hands approximately ninety percent of the members in the room are opposed to the project. One person admitted to being in favor of the project but then stated that she did not live in the Elwood area. According to School Board President Joe Fusaro, The Engel Burman Group which is the developer of the proposed housing site is paying the Elwood School District a one time $1,000,000 mitigation payment. However many residents expressed concern that senior housing may create friction between people who live in senior housing and those who live in single family homes. Single family homeowners have much more stake in ensuring that school budgets pass than people who live in senior housing developments, some explained. This could ultimately create a longer term negative economic impact to the Elwood schools. The Elwood Board of Education will be meeting with the public on October 18th at 7:30 pm at the middle school to further discuss the proposal and all are invited to attend.
Meanwhile a petition is about to be circulated opposing the housing complex. The petition is being started by Elwood resident James Cameron. Many people seemed eager to join together and form a group to try and stop this complex. The Greater Huntington Civic Group, born out of the Avalon Bay Huntington Station development will be assisting individuals from Elwood to organize against the proposal. This action in part is being taken because Walter Raab stated that the Elwood Taxpayer Association will not be taking an official position on the proposal. This left many in the room questioning Mr. Raab’s leadership ability and motives. A meeting between the Greater Huntington Civic Group and a newly formed Elwood group will be taking place in the very near future.