Huntington leaders change parking policies

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The Huntington Town Board unanimously voted Tuesday to approve changes to its parking laws.

While many lauded the changes, the overriding sentiment among those who addressed the board, including business owners, was that they did not address the lack of parking. They also said there is a need for a parking structure downtown.

"Anything we can do to make parking convenience to drive people into the Town of Huntington to create business opportunities for us to sustain our businesses is really, really important," Chris Mitchell, a business owner in the village, said.

Town Supervisor Frank P. Petrone said a town-organized panel is looking into creating a parking structure, and he hopes to hear from it by the summer.

Changes approved Tuesday include a $1-per-hour multimeter fee for spots on Main Street and New York Avenue, coin meter fees on side streets at 50 cents an hour and increases on coin meters at the East Northport train station lot.

"I feel really good about these changes," Petrone said after the 5-0 vote at the monthly town board meeting. "It really was a great collaboration between the town and everyone involved."

The hours of enforcement of the fees will be 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Sunday and holidays would be free; free metered parking for hybrid vehicles was eliminated; and free metered parking for handicapped vehicles will now be in accordance with updates in New York State vehicle and traffic law.

The changes were based on recommendations of the Huntington Village Consortium Group, which commissioned a study -- completed last summer -- of parking in downtown Huntington. Before the vote, a public hearing on the measures was held.

Also, a resolution to set a public hearing about a proposed senior development on Elwood Road in East Northport was pulled from Tuesday's agenda.

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The Seasons development has faced opposition from residents who say it is too large.

In October, the developer pulled the original application from review by the planning department, to meet with civic groups and residents. Tuesday, Petrone said the town board wanted to give the public more time to learn about the latest proposal, which calls for 360 units, rather than the previously proposed 444. He said a public hearing will likely be held in June.

Residents at the meeting said it was still too dense.

"Reducing the number of units from 444 to 360 is like spitting into a hurricane," Barbara Donovan said. "It's about time the board tells the developer, 'No thank you; we're not interested.' "

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