Hundreds oppose site for assisted-living home

Neighbors from around Old Northport Road in Huntington Neighbors from around Old Northport Road in Huntington are petitioning the town to prevent down-zoning for an site that would house another assisted living complex. They are, from left, Ray Ludwicki, 68, Lori Morra, 55, Astrid Ludwicki, 65, and Joanne Bertossi, 78. (Dec. 20, 2013) Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

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Hundreds of Huntington residents have signed a petition opposing the down-zoning of a property targeted for an assisted-living facility.

Massachusetts-based Benchmark Senior Living wants to build its first assisted-living home on Long Island on a plot of land on Route 25A in Huntington. The company has several facilities throughout New England.

"We just don't want the commercialization on that property," said Connie Scaglione, who lives on Old Northport Road, which borders the 6.39-acre site.

The town has received a petition with 248 signatures, according to town spokesman A.J. Carter.

An updated petition with more than 600 signatures was given to town officials at the Dec. 10 board meeting, said Astrid Ludwicki, 65, who also lives on Old Northport Road.

Benchmark has proposed an 87-unit, three-story facility on the hilly, wooded plot, which is near Washington Drive.

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Scaglione said the proposed building, which is to be a little more than 71,000 square feet, is "very large" and "is just not in keeping with the character of Huntington."

Other concerns include increased traffic, light pollution, decreased home values and potential well contamination by the proposed sewage treatment plant on the site.

Several Old Northport Road residents said they do not oppose assisted-living facilities in the town, but the proposed facility is too big for the site near their homes.

Uniondale attorney William Bonesso, who represents the developer, said Benchmark submitted a zone change proposal in August 2012 to convert the property to residential health services. The majority of the property is zoned residential and the rest, commercial.

A scheduled public hearing was adjourned this spring because the developer wanted to have more meetings with residents.

The property has been vacant for several years, after a house and barn were demolished.

A 26,900-square-foot office building and subdivision of eight new homes were proposed for the property, but the plan never came to fruition, town documents show.

Bonesso said the assisted-living facility is a "very quiet use" and their traffic studies show that the "trips generated by a facility like this are much lower than other commercial uses."

Bonesso said they have had three meetings with the community -- the last one was in July -- and they haven't gone back to residents yet because the design team had to make major changes to alleviate concerns. They plan to disseminate updated renderings to the public after the holidays, he said.

"We have been literally trying to do everything we can to address the concerns," Bonesso said.

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With Deborah Morris

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