Huntington residents swarmed Thursday’s town board meeting to speak against the Villadom project.
Opponents of the Villadom project arrived holding protest signs and garbed in yellow t-shirts which read, “Save our town. Stop the Villadom mall.” They attended the board meeting despite the fact that the application for the project had been been withdrawn Thursday afternoon.
“The hearing has been withdrawn and has been noted.” said Huntington Supervisor Chad Luppinacci. “As there is no longer an application in front of the Town board, the public hearing for this project is canceled.”
The news of the withdrawal was met with applause but, although the application was withdrawn, another application can be submitted in the future.
“While the applicant may submit a new application in the future,” said Town Supervisor Luppinacci, “they would need to start the entire process from the beginning – submitting a new plan to the Town, having it reviewed by the planning board, which they would then make a recommendation to the Town board regarding scheduling of a new public hearing.”
The public portion of the meeting soon began. Those who came up to the microphone to address the Town board voiced their disapproval of the Villadom project, along with any future plans of developing the 49.28 acre lot on Jericho Turnpike into a shopping district.
“I want to speak on this piece of land,” Said Commack resident Nancy Gamby. “I know that [the application] was pulled but unfortunately I think we’re going to have other people wanting to develop this land.”
“Of all the people in this Town,” Said Huntington resident Annmarie Jenkins, “it is you, the Town board who bare the greatest responsibility to look out for this community. And have you been doing that? You’ve put us in a position to take time away from our families to get 10,000 signatures to say no to a flawed project … You actually told us, ‘The applicant’s request to adjourn their own public hearing indicates that they have heard the communities concerns.’ The truth is, they never heard our concerns, and they never gave us any answers.”
Many of the public speakers were greeted with applause for voicing their opinions of the Villadom project to the Town board. One resident’s opinion, however, was not well received by the audience.
“The Elwood Orchard development project and new library will help take the town of Huntington in a new direction.” said Maria Mediavilla, whose family owns the land where the project was to be developed. “During my grandfather’s lifetime, portions of the 226 acres were sold. This land included the suburban neighborhood of Fenimore Lane and the land of the AT&T tower signal, sold for the greater good of the community.”
“Re-zoning 49 acres of my father’s property will help preserve and save our town,” said Mediavilla, followed by loud jeering from the audience.
Overall, the majority of speakers in attendance voiced their frustration over the Villadom project. Residents who were distraught over plans to re-zone the area and develop a shopping center wanted to be heard by the Town board.
“I started a grassroots movement of concerned residents and created a petition that has morphed into the movement we see here tonight,” said resident Lisa Bloomstein. “With all due respect, we’re fed up. Fed up with a broken system that allows developer’s applications to be rushed through and rubber stamped, regardless of the deleterious effect it has on the roads, the environment, or the residents.”