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Cautious support for senior housing development

Rendering of Kensington Estates, a proposed luxury development

Rendering of Kensington Estates, a proposed luxury development for residents aged 55 and older that straddles the border between Oyster Bay and Huntington towns. Credit: Triangle Equities/Handout

A proposed luxury housing development for seniors that straddles the Oyster Bay and Huntington town border has many supporters, some more cautious than others, according to testimony this week at an Oyster Bay hearing on the Woodbury/West Hills project.

"The future is now and the time to develop is also now," said Bill Kugelman of the Woodbury-based Gates-Ridge Civic Association.

The plan's town-house style, and the lifestyle it encourages, "allows us to retain our suburban way of life," said Ronald Schoenberg, 65, of Woodbury.

The 18.6-acre Kensington Estates at Plainview Road and Jericho Turnpike would have town houses with 66 age-restricted units in Huntington and 14 in Oyster Bay. The 55-and-older complex would also include three single-family houses on its Oyster Bay side. It would cost at least $60 million to build, developers said.

"This is a very, very important project at the right time in absolutely the right place," said Mitchell Pally of the Long Island Builders Institute.

The project allows for redevelopment of an existing eyesore, provides much-needed senior housing and introduces taxpayers into the fold without adding children to school districts, Pally said.

Whitestone-based developer Triangle Equities is seeking a zone change and site plan approval from Oyster Bay to move the project forward.

"We've been waiting for this application for a long time," Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto said of the need for senior housing. He added later, however, that approval is not a "done deal."

Town officials took nearly two hours of comments from project representatives and residents at Tuesday's hearing but reserved decision.

Huntington officials granted the project a change in zoning in January 2011. Kensington Estates is under site plan review, Huntington Town spokesman A.J. Carter said.

While the project appeared to have many backers, it didn't enjoy full-throated support.

Kugelman commended developers on an "open and honest dialogue" with neighbors but sought vows that the project would be sustainable and that construction traffic would be limited to Jericho Turnpike.

Harvey Fixman, 69, whose home is adjacent to the site, said the family-owned ranch there was home until recently to a huge mulch pile where several fires broke out in April 2011.

Comparatively, senior homes are preferable, he said."We're not thrilled, but we're not necessarily disappointed," he added Wednesday.

Seth Hart, 42, whose property is bordered on three sides by the development, spoke most passionately against it.

"A choice between living as we do now and living with 17 new neighbors in our backyard [14 units and three houses] is not a good choice to have," he said.

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