An Open Letter in Response to Governor Kathy Hochul’s Housing Compact
Governor Hochul’s criticism of Huntington housing is misplaced. The Town of Huntington is the gold standard for housing development in New York.
Where infrastructure can support it, Huntington has rezoned large parcels of land from single-family zoning to higher density residential zones. Avalon Bay in Huntington Station, Kensington Estates, Matinecock Court, and the Seasons at Elwood & East Northport, respectively,generated over 1,000 new units of housing. Each of these developments included 20% affordable units. Huntington is also on the forefront of creating new assisted living units for seniors, approving over 350 new units in the last five years alone.
Existing sewers, roads, EMT/Fire Departments, garbage removal, parking, and environment cannot support the development the Governor is proposing for Long Island without billions of infrastructure dollars. The Governor’s proposed $250 Million for statewide infrastructure is a tiny fraction of the cost to support 800,000 new housing units.
Huntington, unlike other Towns throughout the state, allows every single-family home to add an accessory apartment on the first or second floor of their home. Huntington has issued well over 2,000 legal accessory dwelling unit permits as of 12/31/2022.
On the commercial building front, Huntington is the only Town on Long Island that allows apartments over ground floor commercial space “as of right” throughout the entire Town’s commercial C6 zone. Other municipalities that permit mixed use development typically limit it to targeted areas near train stations. Any visitor arriving at Huntington Station and heading into Huntington Village, will easily see hundreds of new apartments built in the last decade lining the streets over bustling retail shops and restaurants.
The Governor compared Huntington to Brooklyn.
Fuhgeddaboudit! We do not have the necessary sewers, drinking water from upstate reservoirs, paid firefighters/EMT’s and mass transit. Huntington relies on volunteer firefighters and ambulance crews. These selfless members of our community are already over-burdened with the current volume of emergency
calls. This must be addressed with or without new development. The only garbage landfill on Long Island is expected to close in less than 2 years. The cost of shipping existing municipal solid waste (garbage) off Long Island is projected to increase dramatically over the next 5 years.
Our harbors, bays, and ground water are contaminated from endless cesspool and surface runoff contamination. All Long Island drinking water comes from groundwater, not from upstate reservoirs. Every year, our drinking water shows higher and higher levels of 1.4 dioxane contamination. This drinking water crisis is only beginning.
There are precious few open spaces left in Huntington for new construction. There is no such thing as development, only redevelopment. New projects almost always require demolition or repurposing of existing structures. Concern over changing large areas from commercial to residential is not NIMBY-ism, but rather a sober look at the challenges such re-development creates.
I have met with Governor Hochul’s office. I look forward to working with the Governor to develop sustainable plans for housing in Huntington. I cordially invite her to our next listening session for the re-development of Melville on Thursday, January 26, 2023, 7:00 pm at RXR Executive Park, 68 So. Service Road, Melville. This development process cannot be rushed. We only have one chance to get it right. There is no shortage of truly awful government-mandated housing projects built quickly with the best of intentions. The Town of Huntington has been and will continue to be a role model for sustainable development on Long Island and throughout the State of New York.
Ed Smyth is supervisor of the Town of Huntingon