Controversial Subdivision Approved in Cold Spring Harbor’s Historic District
On June 20th, 2012 the Town of Huntington Planning Board approved a subdivision known as Goose Hill Plat, which is located in Cold Spring Harbor. The approval will add two more homes on the site in addition to the existing Captains House located on the middle parcel. The location of the parcels is on the northwest side of the intersection of Route 25A and Goose Hill Road, in Cold Spring Harbor’s Historic District.
This issue has been the subject of debate going back to approximately 1975. The approximately 2.7 acre site was, according to documents, illegally subdivided over 35 years ago into three parcels. The middle parcel consists of a Captains House and sits on 1.01 acres. According to Town records, the parcel on the south side of the property sits on approximately 1 acre and the property on it’s northern border is approximately .69 acres. The existing zoning calls for 1 acre parcels within this portion of the Cold Spring Harbor Historic District. As it stands now the properties on either side of the Captains House property are vacant and forested.
In 2000 a variance was filed before the Zoning Board in order to erect a house on the .69 acre parcel. The application for a variance was necessary because the site was under the 1 acre threshold as per the present zoning. The application was denied. The application was denied because the parcel was a product of an illegal subdivision back in 1975. Additionally the Zoning Board stated that the reduction in lot area amounted to 31% less then what was required by town code (1 acre at this location). The Zoning Board felt that the reduction from 1 acre to .69 of an acre was considered substantial and had concerns regarding how it may affect the character of the neighborhood. However this decision was appealed by the applicant and went before a State Supreme Court Judge. A real estate “expert” John Breslin testified on behalf of the applicant and pushed that the variance to build on the .69 acre lot should be approved. State Supreme Court Judge William Underwood agreed and overuled the 2000 Zoning Board denial. Mr. Breslin, to date provides much of the real estate variance testimony before the Zoning Board of Appeals. Judge Underwood stated that the Zoning Boards 2000 decision was arbitrary and Capricious and not supported by substantial evidence. Preliminary approval of the subdivision was not granted until 2007.
Since then,the most recent property owner, Craven Page, of North Carolina has been looking to finalize the two house subdivision. The attorney that is handling the case on behalf of Craven Page is Michael McCarthy. Mr. McCarthy is an Attorney that is also apparently the counsel of choice before many Zoning Board and Planning Board hearings.
Concerns from nearby neighbors include that the environmental sensitivity of the area were not adequately considered. Such concerns include the destruction of the associated steep and unstable slope, the loss of forested area, the altering of the Cold Spring Harbor Historic District’s character, wildlife displacement and an exacerbation of a flooding condition that already exists at the intersection of Goose Hill Road and 25A. Rather then adding two additional homes, neighbors would prefer that the two outside parcels be returned to the Captains House parcel thus restoring the property to it’s original condition of 2.7 acres.
At this point, according to Town officials, the property is now legally subdivided and the property owners could now legally apply for building permits for the two proposed houses from the Department of Engineering Services. The Town’s Planning Board is considered a separate entity from the Town Board, however, the Planning Board members are appointed by said Town Board. The Planning Board is Chaired by a Mr. Paul Mandelik.