The Suffolk Planning Commission voted 11-0 to approve the latest...

The Suffolk Planning Commission voted 11-0 to approve the latest application by AvalonBay to build a multifamily housing development in Huntington Station. (June 1, 2011) Credit: Randee Daddona

The Suffolk Planning Commission voted 11-0 to approve the latest application by AvalonBay to build a multifamily housing development in Huntington Station.

The approval for 379 units on a 26.6-acre site a half-mile from the Huntington Long Island Rail Road station came with one condition: to consult Suffolk County Planning Commission guidelines on energy efficiency and public safety.

Last year's failed AvalonBay proposal also came with conditions from the commission. The major condition asked why a transit-oriented district was limited only to Huntington Station and not other parts of the town.

The town board decided not to meet that condition, which forced a super majority board vote of 4-1 to override the commission's condition. The Avalon proposal was defeated 3-2 in September.

This time however, a supermajority vote will not be needed because the town board agrees with the condition, and Matt Whelan, vice president of AvalonBay Communities, says he is comfortable with it.

"We're confident we can meet that condition," Whelan said. "I think the commission was very thoughtful in their deliberations today and set us up hopefully to be successful."

The commission's approval also came with several comments aimed at AvalonBay and the town. These include a townwide housing analysis to implement standards for higher density, affordable and rental housing; the developer to consider green methodologies for stormwater management; supplementing open space preservation efforts; creating traffic signal mitigation at East Fifth Street and Park Avenue; constructing emergency access on the western portion of property and building a bus shelter for the Huntington Area Rapid Transit system.

Before the vote, several Huntington residents traveled to the noon meeting in Riverhead to voice their opinions on the plan during the public comment session.

William Hubbs, who has lived in Huntington Station for 56 years, called it a "terrible neighborhood" and the AvalonBay project "essential" for its revitalization.

"This project is not going to cure all of the problems, but it is a first step," Hubbs said.

Steven Spucces, a Huntington resident, called the proposal a "high-density cancer" and vowed to file litigation if the commission OK'd the plan.

"We have our ducks in a line to file an article 78 and take legal action on our town council who has a huge hand in undermining the great people of the Town of Huntington," he said.

Next up is the Huntington Town board meeting on Monday when members are expected to vote on the plan.

In a statement, Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone thanked the commission for its swift consideration and unanimous vote on the application.

"The condition is one that can easily be met and should not affect the town board's action on rezoning," he said.

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