BY RICHARD MURDOCCO
The following comments were submitted on May 21 to the Town of Huntington regarding the future of a 56-acre parcel in the Dix Hills/Elwood area that was once slated for a large retail center.
To Supervisor Chad Lupinacci and members of the Huntington Town Board –
While the developer of the proposed Elwood Orchard shopping center has opted to withdraw their application, it is concerning that the builder had gained considerable momentum towards amending the Town of Huntington’s existing comprehensive plan to suit their needs.
Community-based plans like Horizons 2020 are the product of ample stakeholder and resident input, and the integrity of such planning efforts must be protected.
Moving forward, it is critical that elected officials, policymakers and residents work together to implement the vision of Huntington’s adopted comprehensive plan. Failure to do so can not only result in the degradation of cohesive land use strategies that rely upon one another to be effective, but the erosion of the public’s trust in their local government.
As you are aware, the current comprehensive plan adopted by the township in 2008 outlines the developmental approach the municipality should be taking along the Jericho Turnpike corridor. While it is unrealistic to expect that this particular 56-acre property remain entirely vacant, the town should ensure that any future development concept proposed for the subject parcel is not only properly aligned with the goals of the Horizons 2020 plan, but also conforms to the land use recommendations and the as-of-right zoning that is in place.
Another option worth pursuing is the outright preservation of the non-developed areas of the property. In April 1993, the Elwood Orchard property was a piece of a larger parcel targeted by the town’s comprehensive plan to be “designated for preservation or stringent environmental review” as a potential addition to Berkeley-Jackson County Park. At the time, the plan was to nominate the property for acquisition through the NYS Environmental Quality Bond Act. Perhaps the concept can be resurrected with both Suffolk County and New York State.
In the end, worthwhile planning efforts are designed to account for the changing dynamics of an area, as well as economic shifts. Having reviewed Horizons 2020, the plan’s recommendations still have merit, and should be executed as deemed appropriate.
If development is to proceed at the site, it should fully maintain the spirit and integrity of past comprehensive planning efforts. I look forward to watching the municipality’s progress on this matter.
The Foggiest Idea Inc.