The Town Board held a public hearing Tuesday night regarding the rezoning of a historic site in downtown Huntington, at the corner of Route 25A (East Main Street) and Park Avenue, from an R-15 residence district to a C-1 office residence district.
The change, if approved, would allow for the construction of an office building on the site by Deer Park-based developer Dominick Mavellia, which currently houses a food pantry and vacant deli.
A major argument against the rezoning is that the new building will be inconsistent with the character of the historic neighborhood near the proposed building. According to John Collins, former director of the Huntington Historical Society, “The design of the building is not compatible with the historic district. There’s no precedent of the currently designed buildings.”
Lucie Blohm, current historical society president said, “When the first settlers arrived in the 1600s, this was the site of the first homes in Huntington. Today many of most historic houses in town reside in this area. We’re not against this construction, but has to be appropriate in terms of scale, design, and use.”
However, Mavellia’s attorney John Breslin, argued that it was already determined that the property would fit the character of the neighborhood and that the current zoning is inappropriate. “It was sent to an administrative review and was decided that it was compatible. It is clearly a residential zone, but the problem is it has always been utilized as commercial, it was a gas station and a deli. Before that it was Platt’s Tavern and a hotel.”
Another concern was the traffic issues the new building may generate.
Daniel Karpen used wooden turtle props to illustrate this point. “I’ve passed this intersection literally thousands of times. This turtle represents current traffic,” placing one turtle on the podium. “These turtles lined up represent traffic after the office building is completed,” placing an entire row of turtles on the lectern. “Now we have a turtle jam at the corner of 25A and Park Avenue. I ask the town board, do you enjoy getting in turtle jams? It goes from Park Avenue to the south. It’s one continuous turtle jam.”
However, Robert Eschbacher, principal of civil engineering company VHB, said that these qualms were unwarranted, “Even with the building, traffic would operate at similar conditions. The change of zone will not have a significant traffic impact on surrounding roadways.”
Jeff Bartels said that allowing a developer to come into town to build an office building is a form of “selling out” and that the land should be used for a different purpose.
“The food pantry building is empty. Right up the street is the old auto parts building. I used to go there as a kid with my dad to get parts to tune up the car. That building has been empty for God knows how long. Why don’t you give it up “Mr. Developer” and donate the property to make it into a park? Mr. Lupinacci and the town board, you are selling out what used to make this town great and we’re not going to stand for it. This will be your legacy. Do you protect this town, or do you sell it out to developers and turn it into multi-million-dollar properties?”
In other action at Tuesday’s meeting, the Town Board
Appointed real estate attorney Mara S. Manin as an alternate member of the Zoning Board of Appeals. She was previously an attorney for the Village of Huntington Bay, representing the Board of Trustees and the Zoning Board of Appeals. Her role included advising the boards on all municipal matters and drafting the boards’ decisions and updates to the Village Code.
Appointed: Carmen Kasper, director of Human Services; Jacqueline Harris, deputy director of human services; Scott R. Spittal, deputy director of transportation and traffic safety; Lisa Putignano, deputy director of general services; Timothy Francis, deputy director of general services; Daniel Martin, director of building and engineering services; Joseph Cline, deputy director of building and engineering services; David Genaway, deputy director of planning and environment; and Thelma Neira, acting deputy town attorney.