Transfer of Development Rights & Sweet Hollow Park

Filed under: Around Town,News,OPINION |

The following is from Alissa Sue Taff who is the President of the Sweet Hollow Civic Association.  The letter is in support of creating Sweet Hollow Park which requires a transfer of development rights.

The Sweet Hollow Community had a vision of a beautiful park, in an area where few exist, surrounded by homes with many children and across the street from a senior community.  Sweet Hollow Park would be easily accessible, and designed for all ages and abilities. So, in 2001, we began our quest by asking the Town to acquire Meyer’s Farm, from it’s original owners, with funds from the Open Space Bond of 1998.  Since then, two additional Open Space Bonds have passed, and still no parks have been acquired in the area.

The Meyer’s Family did not sell to the Town, and instead the B.A.P.S. purchased the property, in 2003, for use as a religious center.  We did not give up, however, and renewed our efforts as we met with their leadership, representatives of the Town, and several Civic Leaders.  We shared our dream with the B.A.P.S., and they graciously agreed not to build if an alternative site could be found within a reasonable time period. This became a very difficult task, and time has run out.

Finally, after a nine year search, a property has been found that meets the needs of the  B.A.P.S., and can also provide for very much needed affordable Senior Housing.  While Deshon Drive has a sewer system in place, Meyer’s Farm, located on a Special Groundwater Protection Area, would require a very large septic system. With no development allowed on Meyer’s Farm, our water supply will forever be protected.

Naysayers have raised the issue of the Transfer of Development Rights from the five acres of Deshon Drive and Meyer’s Farm, with regards to both density and financial benefit to the developer of the Senior Homes. They fail to understand that the calculations should be based on cumulative acreage. Without the Transfer of Development Rights, Meyer’s Farm will be developed and all the Senior Homes could still be built.  Density is not being created, but transferred.  For every square foot of density from the 5 acres that is being transferred, 1.6 square feet of Open Space is being created at the 8 plus acres of Sweet Hollow Park.

When the Town purchases Meyer’s Farm, the price they will be paying is greatly reduced, due to the total sterilization of any use of those five acres.  They will become Passive Parkland and, in essence, the Town will be purchasing 8.1 acres of Parkland at the price of only the 3.1 acres that will be active Parkland.  They will not be paying for any land or density that the developer will be using and will benefit everyone in Huntington, since more dollars will be left in the Open Space Fund to acquire additional parks or enhancements.

 Additionally, residential use is an “upzone,” not a “downzone,” with far less intensive use than the current industrial zoning.

The Town Code, for the Transfer of Development Rights, has a provision in 198-118.2 that gives the Town Board the discretion to determine density for , “… the preservation of open space…and environmentally sensitive areas.”  This is not a new code or law. The extremely unique circumstances of having both a Special Groundwater Protection Area and the creation of Parkland limits its precedent setting impact on any other parcel.

For all of these reason, we unanimously and overwhelming support and respectfully request  that you pass this Resolution.  Let’s fulfill the dream and finally create beautiful Sweet Hollow Park!

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3 Responses to Transfer of Development Rights & Sweet Hollow Park

  1. This is still a bad deal for the 220,000 residents of Huntington. While I am not opposed to the creation of a new park, this is NOT the way to do it. Per her own admission, the Meyer Farm property DOES have access to the Nassau county sewer system, used across the street at The Knolls senior development. That should not be an issue. Nor should the existence of the special groundwater protection area, which the Knolls and many other residences, including the LIE sit on top of.
    No, the real issue here is DENSITY. I would prefer Deshon Assc. build their 261 units on the entire 18 acres, and not subjugate R3M. Or reduce the unit count to 188 for the remaining 13 acres. And since it is to be senior only, make it RMM, not R3M. No “covenant” required.
    Since the 2 properties are miles apart, the whole concept of TDR is suspect.
    Two examples.
    When Huntington Country Farms, 135 townhouses, along Pulaski Rd. was built in the late 70’s, it too was controversial for it’s density of 7 units per acre. The answer to that was the builder deeding the eastern 6 acres adjacent to it to the Town as a passive park, now known as Fairfields Park, corner of Pulaski and Park Ave. A “quid pro quo” if you will.
    Another example. When the owners of the property now slated for Avalon Bay Huntington Station along East 5th originally had it re-zoned from I-5 to R-7 (very similar to the Deshon property deal) They had to “donate” 4 acres on the west side to add to Manor Park, now the new ballfield. A 30 + acre property became 26 acres for this change of zone. Another quid pro quo. Where is the benefit to the taxpayers in this Deshon deal? The taxpayers get to buy a property for a park? And get 20 unit per acre zoning? Really?
    As I clearly stated last Tuesday at the public comment portion of the Town meeting, with the exception of Whitman Coop, built by NY State HUD in 1973 with 17 units per acre, NOT ONE HOUSING PROJECT SINCE R3M WAS PASSED IN JUNE 1969 HAS BEEN BUILT WITH MORE THAN 14.5 UNITS PER ACRE IN HUNTINGTON! 43 years preserved under R3M.
    We are losing our zoning for the sake of one park. I consider this nothing more than a windfall for the developer and smoke and mirrors on the part of our Town government.

    matt harris
    May 27, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am

  2. Thank you for clarifying some points here. With your examples, I now better understand what is happening with the TDR issue.

    I agree that there is no way our zoning laws should be changed for this project. If senior housing is to be built, the land should be zoned specifically for that, as RMM. I’m no expert on zoning, so your explanations have helped those of us who don’t know – thanks Matt!

    My Town Too
    May 28, 2012 2:12 pm at 2:12 pm

  3. Yes, thank you Matt for explaining what most of the people don’t understand. You bring light to the big picture. We need more people like yourself to help us understand or “help us read between the lines”. I myself are no zoning expert but I would say there are a lot of people that don’t understand zoning policies.

    May 29, 2012 2:28 pm at 2:28 pm

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