Zoning Change Opponents Pack Town Board Meeting

Dozens of residents spoke Tuesday at a Huntington Town Board meeting against a zoning change on apartments, although the proposal itself was not on the agenda.

The Town Board had voted unanimously last month to have a public hearing on a resolution that would have allowed the Planning Board to grant special use permits for residential apartment buildings that are within 1,500 feet from one of the town’s five hamlet center boundaries and within the C-6 General Business or C-6 Huntington Station Overlay District.

On Tuesday, the proposal itself was not voted on; instead, the board voted 3-2 to cancel a public hearing. Council members Gene Cook, Mark Cuthbertson and Joan Cergol voted to pull the hearing off the agenda; Councilman Ed Smyth and Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci voted to keep it on.

The decision to put the withdrawal of the hearing onto the meeting agenda was made at the morning Town Board workshop.

But many residents who oppose apartment buildings and other developments around Huntington arrived at the Town Board meeting to make clear their views.

The proposal itself had made it onto the agenda through a Planning Department request; Cuthbertson sponsored it onto the agenda.

Cuthbertson, Cook and Cergol all said last week that they supported public hearings, but residents had made their opposition so clear that there was no reason to pursue the resolution.

Smyth, in a Facebook posting between the workshop and the hearing, wrote that the proposal, “would dramatically expand apartment building development, which our roads, sewers, parking and infrastructure cannot sustain. “Nevertheless, as a proponent of transparency in government and public participation, I feel it is important for my colleagues on the Town Board who are pushing for this monumental change to the zoning code to hear the public’s opinions.”

Attorney Thomas A. Abbate, representing a client with a property, wrote to Town Board members last week, saying, “…the Code Amendment arose from unique circumstances affecting a property in which my client has an interest.

“After engaging in further review of the language of the ordinance vis a vis the site, I write to you now to respectfully request that the proposed amendment be withdrawn” from the Town Board agenda.”

But town spokeswoman Lauren Lembo, in response to a question last week, said, “A legally scheduled and noticed public hearing cannot be cancelled without a Town Board vote. This is not a zone change application, where a letter from the applicant withdrawing the application would in effect unschedule it; this is a proposed zoning code amendment — there is no application to withdraw.”

Residents’ opposition to the zoning change centered on parking, traffic jams, overbuilding, potential overcrowding of schools, beach pollution, a decline in property values, and an erosion of a suburban lifestyle. There were multiple references to the need to prevent Huntington from turning into Queens. A flyer mailed to some residents last week blamed recent closings of beaches because of bacteria in the waters on the increase of apartments.

Several social media posts made reference to the political futures of town officials–Smyth is the Republican candidate for town supervisor, while Cook, also a Republican but running on the Stop LIPA line for supervisor. Cuthbertson, the most senior member of the board and a Democrat, is running for the Suffolk County Legislature.








2 Replies to “Zoning Change Opponents Pack Town Board Meeting”

  1. Huntington Town Board Meeting, July 13 – A Packed House

    The role of an elected official is to promote the public interest; to listen to their constituents and to represent them. Today, we witnessed a blatant example of the exact opposite. Today, the people spoke up and they were not happy.

    As a thirty-year member of our community, and as someone who has lived in other parts of our country and in other parts of the world, I hold Huntington very dear and chose to raise my family here. Unfortunately, there have been a lot of changes in that time and most have not been for the better, the rising cost of living, overcrowding, congestion, to name a few. These negative changes rose to a boiling point this week. While knocking on many doors, residents were up in arms over Councilman Mark Cuthbertson’s attempt to pass a major apartment zoning change at a quiet summer board meeting.

    Today’s public hearing at Town Hall was packed. Mr. Cuthbertson’s futile attempt to “un-ring the bell,” as Mr. Smyth stated, after he was caught red-handed, trying to pass Local Law 42-2021 on a quiet afternoon when most residents should have been at work, failed. Yes, the resolution was pulled, but it didn’t go away quietly. Instead, the public spoke up and the message was loud and clear: Mr. Cuthbertson does not have the best interest of the people he is supposed to represent at hand, but rather that of those who profiteer from and promote over-development. And this has been the case for years. It is time for change. As a matter of fact, it is long overdue.

    Stephanie Bontempi
    Centerport Resident
    Candidate for Legislative District 18

  2. Please, Please, we should allow our Local Government and our Officials to:

    1. Stop all but essential Basic Town Services, so the Operation of Government during the COVID, and funds, allocations and ultimately as we saw the Demand for Social Change and Representation.
    A. We cannot continue doing business without our very first and ultimate priority. Which is our Ecology. We have such a sensitive eco-system already, with out Global Warming.
    B. Social Changes; Our Community has undergone many changes in its People. We now know that we cannot proceed without involving Everyone in our Democratic Process, at least the right to be heard.
    C. Affordable Housing; Since when has housing been affordable? It never has, and as a community we need to work towards a common goal. Corporate Housing Developments, will just suck the monies away from the Community. Not only making housing more difficult, but allows for Corporations to make decisions, not the citizenry.
    D. Ultimately our goals should be geared towards the growth of our Children. We cannot possibly tell what The Global Pandemic has had on our Children, both physically and mentally on our babies, teens and our young adults who graduated High School, right in the Middle of the Pandemic. We still don’t know how to protect the youngest amongst us from COVID or any of its Varients.
    E. Residents are people, not corporate housing apartments. This means both, documented and undocumented. How many of these people though not necessarily considered essential, continued working, through out, because of fear of their status. That’s what brought in money to our coffers, when everyone one else was told to stay home. Small Business, and Federal $’s were the cash that brought the cow home.

    Lessons Learned: is not something to be taken lightly. The people learned that there God Given Rights could be taken away. Freedom, is why our military is such a lean, mean fighting machine. We, the Nation, People have been fighting a Foreign War for over 20 years, for much of the same basic rights that are being requested on this page.

    Our world is not the same!! The new Normal, Global Warming, and limited natural resources demand the change of how we do business.
    If we can’t recognize these as priorities at our Local Level, how can we move forward as a Nation?

    I have 3 Children ages 5-34.
    2, grandchildren. My neighbors are people from all over the globe. Color, race, religions, sizes and shapes. We all share one thing in Common. We are People. Recognize all People.
    William J Dunne
    USA, SFC Retired.

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