The Town Board held a public hearing Tuesday night on the rezoning of a 3.86-acre site in Melville from “R-40” to “R-3M Garden Apartments.” This will allow for the construction of two three-story apartment buildings at the intersection of New Highway and Smith Street, dubbed Melville Crossing.
A major argument for the approval of the rezoning is t that a percentage of the units are expected to be considered affordable housing. John Breslin, president of Breslin Realty, said “There is dearth of affordable housing in Huntington. This will provide much-needed affordable housing. There is dramatic need all over town but especially in the southern area of town. By granting this rezoning, it won’t have any adverse effect on the town.”
These affordable apartments are expected to especially help millennials and young professionals needing apartments, as Charles Kerner said. “These wonderful people who took pictures here earlier,” (referring to Huntington Schools athletic teams) “when they come back from college they will not be able to stay in Huntington. When they try to start their own career, they can’t afford rentals here. This Melville Crossing sets a very good precedent.”
Some expressed hope that people drawn to the apartments would eventually stay in Huntington and start a life here. In 1985, Helen Box Hill, rented an apartment in a two-family house in Huntington. She lived upstairs with another family below. In five years, they both bought a house in Huntington. “It’s the American way, the same thing could happen here.” she said.
There were also concerns over a possible increase in traffic that the development may create. However, Robert Eschbacher, principal of VHB, a civil engineering company, said those concerns were unwarranted.
Based on widely accepted methodology published by the Institute of Transportation, Eschbacher stated that there is estimated to be one additional car traveling on New Highway in each direction every 40 minutes.
Some felt the complex could create a “Live-Work-Play” mixed-use development, due to the nearby industrial park and local businesses. “Most of the people living there, will be working there. The idea is people will live close to work which will decrease traffic. Traffic is determined by land use. If you have to go to six places and they’re all separate it creates more traffic, keep a tight circle.” said Thomas D’Ambrosio.
There were also those opposed to the rezoning because of concern about what “affordable housing” means. “What exactly is affordable housing? I’ve heard this phrase kicked around and nobody can really define what that means. What is the formula for it, so that we can once and for all understand.” said Barbara Suter.
Susan Masone urged the Town Board take no action at this time, “The apartments that are currently built are quite unaffordable. The cheapest I heard was $2,800. A moratorium will give us a breather and time to assess a plan.”