Condo Plan for Oheka Castle Advances

Plans to build luxury condominiums at Oheka Caste can proceed, with conditions, after the Huntington Town Board voted last week to allow the owner to file site plans.

But theTown Board’s approval itself has to be reviewed after a messy procedure during which at least one grammatical error was introduced during the amendment process.

A special Town Board meeting has been called for 10 a.m. Monday to clarify the language of the vote, as well as approve the hiring of outside counsel to deal with an unspecified personnel issue.

The vote to approve 95 units on the west side of East Gate Drive was 4-0-1, with Counciwoman Joan Cergol recusing hersef because of a prior business relationship with Oheka owner Gary Melius.

Melius and the Cold Spring Country Club had at one time been partners in a plan to build a larger development, but split, with Melius deciding to pursue his own plan. The country club attempted to block Melius’s plan at a Town Board meeting last month, with lawyers for both sides laying out their view of the legalities of overlay rule changes.¬† A lawyer for the country club acknowledged at last month’s hearing that it was concerned that if Melius’s plan was approved, the club’s own plans might be rejected.

East Gate Drive is controlled by the country club, meaning Melius will need its approval for his project, although Smyth said that if Melius couldn’t win access, he could apply for an alternative access plan.

Last week’s vote requires that Melius or the builder deposit $2 million into a fund to preserve Oheka Castle, with the fund managed by a town agency that could decide to spend preserving another historical property in town. And each condo owner will pay 15 percent of their association dues to a second fund dedicated to preserving the castle.

Smyth said, “I’m concerned that down the road, we don’t have a second Coindre Hall on our hands where we have a very large structure¬† that has limited use that has no funds for proper maintenance.”

The Oheka plan won considerable support at last month’s meeting, for both the preservation of the castle, and for Melius’s contributions to the community.

After the vote, Smyth said, “I would congratulate the Cold Spring Country Club for now having the most valuable piece of unbuildable land on Long Island.”


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