A proposed change in downtown zoning rules that is scheduled for a public hearing Tuesday has provoked an uproar online and dueling press releases from members of the Town Board.
Councilman Mark Cuthbertson announced that he will ask that the resolution he sponsored be removed from the agenda at the morning workshop that precedes the 2 p.m. meeting.
“I want to thank each resident that reached out to me with their concerns about this hearing,” Cuthbertson said. “The extensive feedback made it clear that Town residents are against the proposed code change.”
Council members Eugene Cook and Joan Cergol both said they’d support withdrawing it.
But Town Councilman Ed Smyth issued a press release encouraging residents to come out to the Town Board meeting anyway and express their opinions about the proposal.
“It is important for my colleagues who are pushing for this monumental change to the zoning code to hear the public’s opinion about the state of development in our town,” Smyth said. “Even if this matter is withdrawn by resolution, the public can voice their opinions during the public portion of the board meeting. I encourage everyone to come to Town Hall on Tuesday and let their voices be heard. I don’t think my colleagues are going to like what they hear from the public.”
At issue is a resolution that would give the Planning Board authority 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, subject to other restrictions.
Tuesday’s meeting is the first in-person session of the Town Board since the Covid-19 epidemic shut down nearly all public events in the spring of 2020.
“I have always supported public hearings, even when I have publicly announced that I don’t agree with proposed development or town code amendment; as the public hearing allows Huntington taxpayers to be heard by the Town Board, as to what they want for Huntington,” Cook said. “I am proud that over the last several years, many residents have become active in reaching out to the Town Board, prior to the public hearing, as in this case, to make us aware of their thoughts on a matter and the overwhelming majority does not support this code change. I thank my colleagues Councilman Cuthbertson and Councilwoman Cergol for working together with me to request the Supervisor to withdraw this public hearing.”
And Cergol said, “Cancelling the public hearing on this proposal is the right thing to do. I appreciate and look forward to continuing engagement with our residents as we work together to build solutions to tackle the challenges that lie ahead in our post pandemic world.”
Online, several residents have been rallying others to show up to oppose the zoning proposal.
One poster wrote,
“THEY ARE COUNTING ON IT THAT “THE PEOPLE” WON’T SHOW UP ON JULY 13th!!!!