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Elwood development should change, not town plan, residents say

Huntington's comprehensive plan is being evaluated for changes

Huntington's comprehensive plan is being evaluated for changes to accommodate a developer that wants to build an $80 million commercial development in Elwood. The photo is from July 5, 2016. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Huntington’s comprehensive plan — the town’s vision of how it should grow into the future — is being eyed for changes to accommodate a developer that wants to build an $80 million commercial development on Jericho Turnpike in Elwood.

But to some, no change is needed. They say abide by the comprehensive plan.

They point to language in The Horizons 2020 Comprehensive Plan, created in 2008, that dictates approvals should not be granted for proposed developments unless significant changes in the area are found. Opponents to changing the plan for the Elwood project note that traffic congestion and other factors haven’t changed in the eight years since the plan was approved.

Developers are seeking a zoning change to allow commercial development from the current low-density residential zoning.

“This is a significant change in zoning and an extension of the commercial code, which was specifically culled out of the master plan in 2008,” said Andrew Kaplan, an Elwood resident. “It’s not acceptable.”

The comprehensive plan requires that a proposed zoning change conform to the plan, which sets a vision of the town in the years beyond 2020.

Great Neck-based Villadom Corp. is seeking the change to build the 390,000-square-foot project with retail space and offices, but no residential construction. The developer would lease the land for 99 years.

Kris Torkan, president of Villadom, said he believes a lot has changed in eight years and the plan warrants a review and update. “Development of this property would add a substantial increase in the tax base to benefit the community, school system, surrounding businesses and residences,” Torkan said. “Building a single-family residential development is not economically viable on that site.”

At a June planning board public hearing about changing the master plan for the project, representatives of the Melville-based Weber Group, North Dix Hills Civic Association, Manor Plains Civic Association, and area residents opposed the development, citing quality-of-life concerns and the conflict with the comprehensive plan.

The North Dix Hills Civic Association submitted a petition with more than 2,700 signatures against the comprehensive plan changes.

The Elwood Taxpayers Association, Huntington Matters and the Greater Huntington Civic Group support the project.

Laura DiGrande, one of three board directors of the North Dix Hills Civic Association, which represents about 300 homes said the plan designates the site for residential use, or its current status, which is an orchard, because it represents a significant break in traffic congestion and serves as a break in commercial land use along Jericho Turnpike.

“These documents are not changed every couple of years, they’re there for a couple of decades,” she said of master plans. “They’re a land use and vision statement; its goal is to maintain a certain quality of life for residents.”

The planning board is expected to make a decision in the next couple of weeks.


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