Huntington approves Oheka condo zoning

This is an aerial view plan of the This is an aerial view plan of the 190-unit condominium project, right, proposed for land near the Oheka Castle, shown at left. The developer is seeking to have sewage from the development sent into the Nassau County Sewer District.

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The Huntington Town Board Monday cleared the way for 190 luxury condominiums on a 187-acre parcel that includes the historic Oheka Castle in Huntington and the Cold Spring Country Club in West Hills.

The board, at a special meeting at Town Hall, unanimously approved a zoning change for the property.

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Several overlapping zoning allowances affect the parcel, seven acres of which are in the town of Oyster Bay. The zoning change to an Open Space Cluster District will allow construction of the condominiums on about 18 acres on the Huntington portion of the site, while preserving the rest as a golf course.

The board was prepared to vote on the measure last month but it was removed from the agenda at the request of Gary Melius, the owner of Oheka Castle and the project developer. He said there were some conditions that had been promised to neighbors of the castle property that needed to be added to the resolution. Melius has said he doesn't expect construction to begin for years.

Board member Mark Cuthbertson, who helped create the Open Space Cluster District, said approving the zoning change made sense for a variety of reasons.

"We're preserving open space and keeping a golf course open and allowing a reasonable development to take place that will help the tax base," he said.

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The board has 90 business days after a hearing to vote on a resolution. Because of the extra day in February for leap year, the 90 days from the December hearing expired at midnight Monday. If the board had waited to vote at its regular monthly meeting Tuesday, and the deadline had passed, the resolution approval process would have had to start anew.

"This decision is great," Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said of the vote. "This community is 100 percent behind this plan and everyone seems to be happy and we're happy."

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