Station Lied To Again?
We recently posted a list of all the committees and reports regarding Huntington Station revitalization efforts that we knew about. We apparently missed at least one. As it turns out in 2009 the Town Board hired a consulting firm to come up with another master plan for Huntington Station and parts of the rest of the Township. According to Town Board resolution 2009-65 which was offered by Frank Petrone and Seconded by Susan Berland, Gannet Flemming was hired for consulting services in relation to the Brownfield Opportunities Grant. The money to pay Gannet Flemming would come from a NY State grant that was received by the Town in 2009. During the time of this vote, the Democrats had a 5-0 majority on the Town Board consisting of Frank Petrone, Mark Cuthbertson, Susan Berland, Glenda Jackson and Stu Besen. They all voted for the resolution.
In June of 2010 a report known as Draft Huntington Station Transportation Hub Nomination Study was completed. The 136 page report mainly focused on a 640 acre area located in Huntington Station. The report was paid for by the tax payers at a cost of $100,000. The report outlined the potential and goals for the area, with a large emphasis on high density housing and on Transit Oriented Development (TOD). If you recall in June of 2010, the Avalon Bay debate was ongoing. Many were still in the dark about the potential downzoning of their community.
Remember that word – TOD? It was a topic often brought up during the Avalon Bay debate. People who opposed the project spoke of Huntington Station becoming a city. Those who discussed the implications of a TOD were called fear mongers among other things. These people who were accused of spreading far fetched long term scenarios about what could happen if the TOD was approved were amazingly right on target. While the supporters of the TOD and Avalon Bay were convincing the public that people who opposed the TOD were presenting “misinformation” and spreading fear, some of them were aware the entire time that this report existed.
Many of you received calls from Susan Berland. She claimed she was attempting to calm your fears and she assured you that there would be no additional high density housing built. She was lying to you. Berland was the one to second the resolution to have the study completed in the first place. The report had already been completed during the time Ms. Berlands’ phone call were made to concerned residents. In addition to supporting the resolution, several of her biggest campaign supporters served on the steering committee for the report.
In August of 2010, David Panetta wrote an Article for the Village Tattler entitled, TOD Zoning Only Applies To The Bonavita Property. The purpose of the POV was to explain that “There is so much misunderstanding about the overlay district”. Panetta stated, “except for the Bonavita property, no other properties (including those located in the district) are being rezoned, downzoned or calzoned”. The letter is signed “David Pennetta, Huntington Resident and Parent of SD #3″. Mr. Panetta served on the steering committee for the Brownfield report so he would have known about the goal for additional high density housing when he wrote this letter. Mr. Panetta has since moved out of the Huntington School District community and is now serving on the Planning Board for The Town of Huntington.
Throughout the entire 136 page report, there is a great deal of mention of affordable housing, high density housing, expanding sewers and roadways. There is mention of assembling parcels and aquiring private property, but there is not one mention of the impact on the Huntington School District and how many children the massive plan could potentially bring and the burden it would place on the district 3 tax payers. No representative from the Huntington School District was included on the steering committee. Why?
The report outlines 4 sub areas as phase one. Sub area #1 has 35 parcels totaling approximately 15.2 acres and is triangular shaped and is bordered to the east by the properties along the east side of New York Avenue, the south by west 4th Street and Depot Road, and the Long island Railroad to the north and west.
The 35 parcels include the Town owned former Rotundo property which is located near West 4th Street and New York Avenue and some of the Town owned parking lots. Also included are 5.9 acres located north of the LIRR tracks and south of Railroad Avenue and Broadway; 9.5 acres located on both sides of New York Avenue from the intersection of Railroad Avenue and Broadway north to Academy Place; and 5.9 acres located adjacent to the LIRR tracks on the south side of Broadway, approximately between Folsom and Kelsey Avenue. The study didn’t include the Bonavita Property as a sub group.
Was the report intended to be kept a secret? You decide…
To date, it has not been posted on the Town website.
Included in the report are 4 pages describing the effort to inform the community about the process. As individuals who were part of a group of people who spent countless hours educating themselves on the TOD, we were not aware of this document until Huntington Station resident and community activist Matt Harris gave it to us. We checked with most vocal opponents of the of the TOD proposal, none of them had seen or heard of this $100,000, 136 page document with a 20 member steering committee. Needless to say, they were stunned.
Sustainable Long Island was retained to assist in facilitating public involvement. TheTown of Huntington Economic Development Corp. (EDC) and the Town of Huntington Community Development Agency (CDA) were both involved in the planning process. In the report it states, “the project steering committee is a reflection of the broad representation of the community.” Husband and wife Tom and Kim D’Ambrosio were the two people who were included as representatives from the Huntington Station community. With one possible exception, we do not believe there is a Huntington Station single family home owner on the steering committee.
There were two community meetings held to get public input on this plan. They were held on June 17 and October 15, 2009. Supervisor Frank Petrone opened the second meeting. According to the report, 50 people showed up to the first meeting and 40 showed up to the second one. That is astounding considering there were 20 people on the steering committee. To make a comparison, the previous plan of this magnitude that was present to the community it is estimated that as many as 1800 people attended. Town Hall was packed to capacity during the Avalon Bay hearings and that only included 26 acres of high density housing, this plan encompassed 640 acres.
The report continues on for 4 pages about all the efforts to inform the community. It discusses flyers being distributed in English and Spanish, e-mail blasts, newsletters and so on. If that were the case, they forgot to e-mail the Huntington School Board. We have confirmed that it was never presented to the Huntington School Board. Bill Dwyer who was BOE President at the time had no idea the report existed. Both Huntington Bay Mayor Herb Morrow and Highway Superintendent William Naughton were not made aware of the report. Huntington Station community activist Matt Harris did not know it existed, no one from the Greater Huntington Civic group knew about it and so on. Several reporters at the Huntingtonian News paper completed hours of extensive research on all matters related to committees and revitalization efforts in Huntington Station and this costly and detailed report never showed up anywhere.
These are statements taken directly from the report:
Future residential projects would increase population density and enhance retail market potential.
The plan calls for more expensive mid-rise buildings of 4 – 8 stories.
The early program phases would likely be primarily rental housing, with more for sale housing coming online in later years.
The report estimates the need for about 1600 high density transaction annually including 540 low-income units, 190 workforce units and 840 Market Rate units.
Phase one includes 30 percent of the units designated as affordable/workforce housing.
Recommendations include that the residential component consists of multifamily housing for mixed-income households. Housing formats to include apartments, mid-rise apartments and town-homes.
Adjust boundaries of the new hamlet center to be consistent with existing/ proposed land use.
Permit buildings to be 45 feet high, require conditional use permits for buildings over 5000 square feet.
A general rule is that 15 to 24+ units are needed per acre.
Residential uses are the most critical.
It (referring to the Rotundo property) has the potential to support the greatest number of new residential dwelling units.
The proposed realignment would impact the current USA Gas Station and would likely require acquisition of this entire property.
Development projects located within the sub area can apply to join the Sewer District.
A separate analysis should be performed to determine the sub-areas full build-out potential.
The Yankee Peddler Antique building is one of the oldest extant buildings in the BOA study area. It appears to be well maintained and should be preserved if at all possible and could become an anchor building for this block’s redevelopment. Parcels in this block will likely need to be assembled in order to become viable for redevelopment.
At this point, it has not been adequately determined if there are even Brownfield areas in Huntingon Station which brings into question the proper use of grant money. No where in this report is there any conclusive hazardous brownfield waste site proven, and in fact one “potential site,” Jiffy Lube, has since been torn down and replaced with anew 7/11. Was the DEC involved in any clean up or testing of that site?
Hopefully, this will be investigated. If you are concerned about high density housing and quality of life issues we strongly recommend that you read the entire report. It will be available tomorrow on our website.