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Development proposal for Indian Hills Golf Club draws concerns

Resident Janice Conte during a meeting about a

Resident Janice Conte during a meeting about a development proposal for the Indian Hills Golf Course in Fort Salonga on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Residents packed the lunchroom of a local school in Fort Salonga to hear details about a plan to build 108 town homes for those 55 and older on the grounds of the Indian Hills Golf Club.

Jim Tsunis, managing member of the Hauppauge-based Northwind Group, has applied to Huntington Town to change the zoning for the property from 1-acre single family to Open Space Cluster District.

Current zoning allows him to build more than 100 single-family homes, but he wants to use the town’s cluster law, which allows the clustering of homes to preserve open space.

With concerns over traffic, and environmental and light pollution, some residents at the Jan. 20 meeting said they didn’t like either option. But many said if forced to chose they would prefer to preserve the 1-acre zoning.

“It seemed that the community expressed their feeling loud and clear the other night that this was not something they are in favor of,” said Andrew Rapiejko, a Fort Salonga resident for 18 years. “If I were given the two choices, I would prefer the single-family homes, because it would be less of an impact to the surrounding community and less of an impact to the environment, the ground water and the Long Island Sound.”

Tsunis’ plan, The Preserve at Indian Hills, calls for the preservation of 120 out of a total of 143 acres, with the 108 town homes clustered on the remaining acres in three separate areas. There would also be five golf club member-owned “cottages.”

He also plans to renovate the existing clubhouse, a project that also has been a cause of concern to some residents.

Tsunis said he looks forward to working with the community to achieve the best possible plan, but he insisted the land would be developed.

“It’s my intent to preserve as much of the neighborhood as I can and the best way to do that is to provide senior cluster housing,” Tsunis said.

The Fort Salonga Civic Association hosted the meeting at the school, where more than 260 people showed up. John Tweedie, president of the association, said the board has not yet taken a position on the proposed plan, but expects to have a decision by Feb 3.

While he said his group appreciated the town’s open space program, he added, “However, we are very understanding of the local residents’ desire to maintain one-acre zoning.”

Residents also raised questions about how sewage would be treated and some asked if an affordable housing component would be included in the project.

Tsunis said that under his proposal he would not have to set aside affordable units. Town officials said research must be done to see if there is a state law that requires an affordable housing component.

Janice Conte, a Fort Salonga resident since June, and creator of the Stop108cluster Facebook page, said other than a plan to run natural gas lines into the development, and to build a walking path along Long Island Sound, Tsunis never said what the public benefit would be to residents.

“The purpose of rezoning by law is for there to be a public benefit, it’s not to be a benefit for the developer or the golfers, which is a private entity,” said Conte. “The purpose of rezoning is to provide a public benefit, and we just do not see a public benefit at all.”

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