Flash Back Friday’s – The Birth of “Dr. Density” etc.

This story was originally posted on October  22, 2011:

If you read the current online commentary on various news and social media sites you will see the mention of the phrase “Dr. Density” in regard to Dr. Spencer who is running for Suffolk County Legislature for the 18th District.We wanted to clarify what this phrase means and explain why some are using it.

Shortly after the failure of Avalon Bays’ first proposal in 2010 the Hunitngton Housing Authority (HHA), which was chaired by Dr. Spencer at the time, made a proposal to the Town of Huntington Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) for a change of zoning on the HHA property at the corner of New York Avenue and Lowndes Ave. in Huntington Station.This request was for the ZBA to vote to allow 26-30 units of housing per acre. The current zoning allows 14.54 units per acre. As you can see this would double the amount of units per acre allowed throughout the Town of Huntington. Law states that the Town can not allow spot zoning so any change in zoning would be Town wide. While most of the Town would not immediately be affected had this zoning change been allowed. It would only be a matter of time before this type of dense housing started to show up in Greenlawn, East Northport, Melville and everywhere else in Town. There would be no legal recourse to stop it.

Thankfully the local community and the Huntington Union Free School District (HUFSD) Board of Education (BOE) stopped this from happening. The School Board had reached out to the Town to try and prevent this change of zoningbut were not successful so they voted 5-2 to hire an attorney to fight the zoning change.The ZBA eventually voted to not allow the change in zoning. It is very important to note that had the HUFSD BOE not hired an attorney and had the local community not spoken up Dr. Spencers plan would have succeeded. We, and future generations, would all be paying the price for his super high density proposal.

The “Dr. Density” moniker arose from the very vocal support given this proposal by then HHA Chairman Dr. Spencer. He made many speeches in favor of his proposal and also hired a public relations firm with ties to the Long Islander Newspaper to fight in support of his proposal.

Now Dr. Spencer is trying to hide behind the raising of school taxes as an issue. Had the HUFSD BOE not voted to hire an attorney to fight this doubling of allowable housing density we would all, in every school district in Huntington, be paying  much more in taxes. Dr. Spencer claimed at the time that the housing was for seniors, which may have been true for that development but may not be true of other developments that would be allowed if this zoning change had happened. We do not hear anyone talking about this fact during the present election cycle and we thought it needed to be brought up.

We were looking to find the ZBA meeting video (1-27-2011) on the Towns web site but it does not appear to be there. If any of our readers happen to have video of this meeting, or any other meeting where Dr. Spencer spoke about his proposal, we would appreciate it if you could make it available. Please contact us at editor@thehuntingtonian.com. Your identity will be kept confidential.

Breaking The Law?

There is a serious issue that must be raised and that is the HHA has not been following the Town Laws set up after a scandal at the HHA about 10 years ago. Steve Israel (a Town Councilman at the time) proposed and was successful in getting passed a number of Town Laws requiring the HHA to submit various paperwork on a regular basis to Town Officials. We have found no evidence that these Town Laws have ever been followed.

Dr. Spencer stated at a debate at the Cold Spring Harbor Library  that ” I always follow rules and regulations”. As Chairman of the HHA it appears that he has not complied with Town Law Chapter 40. The Huntingtonian has foiled records from the Town relating to this issue. Our investigation has uncovered that the HHA controls Housing Assistance Payments in 2010 of $6,318,399 in Federal, State and County monies yet they have not followed this Town Law. The HHA claims the Town Board could just FOIL the information, why has the Town Board not done this?

Dr. Spencer claims “we have a 97% approval rating from Housing and Urban Developement (HUD)”. HUD is the Federal Agency responsible for Section 8 and other Federal Housing Programs. The Huntingtonian reporters were in a meeting with members of the HHA and they touted this rating. A look at how this rating is determined casts a shadow on what it really means.

An example would be If a house is a one family and has 5 illegal apartments, the HHA goes into one of the apartments and does it’s Federal HUD inspection. If this apartment is then found to meet all HUD standards it is given approval. The HHA ignores the fact that the house has 5 illegal apartments. The HHA claims it is not their job to enforce the Town Code. They say they have no responsibility for this overcrowding issue. We would like to remind our readers that the Town Board votes to appoint the members of the Board of Commissioners of the HHA.

According to the law the HHA needs to provide specific information as detailed below. Dr. Spencer, as head of the HHA took an oath of office to uphold the law.

The Town Law relating to this is as follows:

CHAPTER 40 HUNTINGTON HOUSING AUTHORITY

[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Huntington 10-19-1999 by L.L. No. 19-1999. Amendments noted where applicable.]

§ 40-1 Legislative intent.

It is the intent of the Huntington Town Board to require regular and systematic disclosure and dissemination of financial and operational information of the Huntington Housing Authority to ensure that the Town Board and the people of the Town of Huntington are fully informed as to the financial activities, operations and integrity of the Huntington Housing Authority.

§ 40-2 Requirements of Huntington Housing Authority.

  • In furtherance of its powers pursuant to New York State Public Housing Law, the Town Board of the Town of Huntington hereby directs the Huntington Housing Authority as follows:

A. Provide certified copies of the minutes of all of its meetings, including a Treasurer’s report to the Town Clerk, Town Supervisor, Town Board and the Town Attorney within thirty (30) days of the approval or acceptance of said minutes and reports.

B. Submit quarterly financial reports to the Town Clerk, Town Supervisor, Town Board and the Town Attorney. Such financial reports shall include itemization of all disbursements and receipts.

C. Publish an annual public report, including statements of goals for the following year, on or before December 31.

D. File meeting agendas with the Town Clerk at least one (1) week prior to any meeting of the Authority.

E. Provide copies of all audits from whatever the source to the Town Clerk, Town Supervisor, Town Board and the Town Attorney within thirty (30) days of their receipt by the Authority.

F. Require that no Commissioner may be denied information and/or documents related in any matter to the Huntington Housing Authority.

G. Require the Town Comptroller to conduct an audit on an annual basis.


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