Community demands scaled-back proposal in Plainview

Community members crowded HB Matlin Middle School in Community members crowded HB Matlin Middle School in Plainview on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, to hear a proposal regarding a new condo and commercial development in Plainview. Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

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A proposed 890-unit gated community in Plainview should be smaller, residents and Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto said during and after a contentious eight-hour hearing that ended early Wednesday.

"There is a need to downsize the project," Venditto said in an interview Wednesday. Shrinking the project called Country Pointe at Plainview would be part of negotiations with the developer, he said, adding that approval is not guaranteed.

At the hearing, he said, "890 is a little on the high side . . . I'd like to see more open space."

Michael Dubb, whose Jericho-based company Mile Development would build the project on a portion of a 143-acre property owned by a Charles Wang company, said he was willing to talk to the town about density. "I will meet with the town and see if I can accommodate," Dubb said during a break at the hearing.

Hundreds packed the auditorium and spilled into the cafeteria at Howard B. Mattlin Middle School in Plainview Tuesday night. Opponents criticized the project's density, traffic it could generate and potential changes to the area's character.

Supporters praised Dubb, whose company does business as the Beechwood Organization. They said the project -- which would include 43 acres of open space -- could generate tax revenue while creating housing.

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"It's clear that there's a demand for this type of community," Dubb said.

Many residents criticized the proposal's traffic study as out of date because it was completed before Canon USA opened its headquarters nearby in Melville last year.

In addition to housing, the project would include a 70,000-square-foot ShopRite grocery store that some residents feared would further congest Old Country Road and Round Swamp Road.

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"It's going to make Old Country Road like Queens Boulevard," said Margaret Berk, a 52-year-old bookkeeper from Old Bethpage. "We worked very hard to come here to have this quality of life."

Helene Levy, 62, a retired teacher from Plainview, said she would like to move into the development.

"This development is for the greater good of the entire community, including the community that my children worked so hard to purchase a house in," Levy said.

Venditto said in an interview that the traffic study should be updated to reflect actual traffic generated by Canon and that the developer would need to pay for traffic mitigation.

Following a presentation by the applicant's lawyer, Jeffrey Forchelli, more than a dozen people spoke to the board for an hour. Most of the early speakers were from other parts of Long Island and spoke in favor of the project.

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Later, more residents of Plainview and Old Bethpage spoke. Opinion was split among local residents, but most who testified after midnight were local and opposed the project.

While Venditto said he wanted a downsized project, he said the town had flexibility to change the restrictions on the property.

"We're working with what I've been calling a tabula rasa," he said. "A white sheet of paper. We're starting all over again. We're not bound by any of the prior agreements, covenants, restrictions, zoning decisions rules or otherwise."

The hearing, which began at 7 p.m. Tuesday, ended at 3:06 a.m. The town will take public comments for 60 days.

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