Huntington Town Hall Meeting Highlights
During a more than 3 hour Town Hall meeting on Tuesday, February 5, a variety of important topics were covered. Public Hearings on the response to Hurricane Sandy, and the consideration of an application by Seamus Coyle regarding the fate of 114 Prime Avenue property were among the highlights. Berland, Cuthbertson and Petrone voted no to hold a public hearing on term limits. The three also voted no to a resolution ensuring that public information is provided to the public and media in a timely manner. Many local residents spoke during the public portion to oppose the Oaktree Dairy Property proposal known as “The Seasons at Elwood”.
During the Hurricane Sandy discussion, the town’s Highway Department, led by William Naughton, provided a thorough recap of the cleanup efforts. It was reported that the department had removed a total of 500,000 cubic yards of vegetative debris from town roadways. This was compared to the efforts during Hurricane Irene when 70,000 cubic yards were removed. Sandy created more then six times the amount of debris than Irene. Eight Hundred tree stumps have already been removed by the Highway department and those efforts are continuing. The department is currently assessing the damage that occurred on town sidewalks and curbs which was described as major. Once the assessment is complete the town will put forth a requirements contract in order to begin restoration work. William Naughton thanked the town residents for their patience and understanding and thanked town employees for their dedication in working to get the town back to normal. The storm was unprecedented in nature.
The topic of term limits was a late addition to the agenda. The resolution was to schedule a public hearing in the spring in order to receive public input on the matter. The proposal was to limit the number of terms for policy makers including the Supervisor and Town Board members. Councilman Cook offered the resolution which was seconded by Councilman Mayoka. The resolution called for a maximum of two 4 year terms. The Supervisor voted against the resolution as he claims all elected town officials should fall under a term limit plan. He also stated he would not support two 4 year terms but rather three 4 year terms which would amount to twelve consecutive years. Councilman Cook felt it was important to receive public input on the idea through such a hearing. The Supervisor disagreed and voted along with Councilwoman Berland and Councilman Cuthbertson to reject the public hearing on such limits.
Seamus Cole, owner of 114 Prime Avenue put forth an application for certificate of approval in a historic district to erect a automobile repair shop. Local residents spoke in heartfelt opposition to the proposal. This property has been the subject of much scrutiny for many years and has been described as eye soar. The Town has slapped the property owner with numerous violations. After much public sentiment against the proposal, the Town Board unanimously denied the application. The attorney for Coyle, Mr. James Breslin vowed to continue to fight on behalf of the applicant.
Councilman Mayoka put forth a resolution to direct the town’s Public Information Officer to provide accurate and complete financial information on a timely basis for use by citizens and the press. Councilman Mayoka cited two specific examples where this was not the case. One example included information on a bond resolution that was not provided to the Councilman in a timely manner. Another example cited the town’s 2013 budget process. According to Councilman Mayoka, potentially misleading and inaccurate information was provided in a press release. Councilman Cook concurred with Councilman Mayoka. The resolution was defeated 3-2. Supervisor Petrone, Councilwoman Berland and Councilman Cuthbertson voted in opposition. Berland considered the resolution an insult to the town’s Public Information Officer AJ Carter.
Members of “Preserving Elwood Now” group spoke out in opposition to the “Season’s at Elwood” proposal which is a 444 unit condominium complex proposed at the Oaktree Dairy property. The issues concerning the residents include the high density proposed, traffic concerns, higher taxes, the loss of the neighborhood’s suburban character, and a potential future influx of school aged children. The potential influx could stem from a future change in covenant that could alter the development’s age requirement rules to a younger demographic.