A plan to erect an office building on a busy Huntington corner within a historic district can't move forward.
The Huntington Historic Preservation Commission has voted not to grant a certificate of approval for a proposed 10,000-square-foot building on the site, which is currently home to an abandoned gas station and an existing deli.
At issue is a proposed urgent care and medical office building at Park Avenue and Route 25A within the Old Huntington Green Historic District -- the very spot where, in April 1790, George Washington stopped at what was then Platt's Tavern to thank residents who supported the patriot cause during the revolution.
Deer Park-based developer Dominick Mavellia says he will take the next step in the process and appeal the decision at an administrative hearing set for Wednesday at Town Hall.
"I believe the historic commission has exceeded its purview," Mavellia said. "They're not to be questioning the size, the town and planning boards are responsible for that; the historic commission is responsible for the style, building materials, things of that nature. I really feel like I am being bullied here by the commission, and they are out of touch."
Mavellia needs a zone change from a residential district to C-1 zoning, which allows professional offices, funeral homes, art or music studios, and day care centers to get the project off the ground.
In a letter dated Oct. 5 to the town board, the seven-member commission, citing the building's size, scale and design, said the proposed structure "would have an adverse impact on the historic district," noting that the vast majority of the properties in the area are zoned for residential use.
The town board established the Historic Preservation Commission in 1969, and appoints its members with the aim of conserving, protecting and perpetuating Huntington's historical heritage.
Its powers and duties include study, review and recommendation to the town board for designation of places, sites, structures and buildings as historic landmarks or historic districts. It also reviews, writes reports and makes recommendations with respect to applications for certificates of approval to improve historic properties.
Town Supervisor Frank P. Petrone said he could not comment on the commission's decision because a hearing officer under contract to the town is now involved.
"We now stay completely away from this," Petrone said. "The hearing officer will make a recommendation."
Paul Warburgh, president of the Old Huntington Green Inc., a civic group that has been fighting the plan, said he thinks the commission made the right call.
"He's made a few cosmetic changes, but if he continues to maintain that size, then the commission was correct in refusing to grant a certificate of approval," Warburgh said.
Ultimately, approval of the plan rests with the town board, town officials said.
Mavellia has said that if the deal falls through, the only option for the property is to convert the existing deli into a home for veterans, something he says would be allowable under the site's current zoning. But he really would like to succeed with the plan that's on the table.
"This is good, positive planning development," Mavellia said of the current proposal. "Why they are not welcoming it with open arms is unfathomable."