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How zoning changes could shape downtown Huntington

The proposed changes to zoning are meant to

The proposed changes to zoning are meant to maintain the look and feel of downtown Huntington, officials said.  Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

In an attempt to alleviate parking congestion, lift the burden on its infrastructure, and improve quality of life in downtown Huntington and across town, Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci is pushing to update the town’s C-6 zoning, a classification for commercially zoned properties that allows for mixed-use buildings.

The town board will have a public hearing next month to get input from residents before voting on the proposals.

What is C-6 zoning?

C-6 General Business District zoning is the most common commercial zoning district in the town, covering not just downtown Huntington and other downtown hamlet centers but also the major commercial arteries, such as Jericho Turnpike and Larkfield Road. It covers a broad variety of retail and office uses, along with drive-through restaurants, contractors' offices, big box stores, and residential apartments above retail spaces.

What does the town want to do?

Lupinacci said the strict guidelines he is proposing would protect the suburban charm of the town’s historic downtowns, reduce mixed-use building height and density, specifically for applicants proposing to create new apartments, and prevent the long-standing parking situation in downtown Huntington from worsening by increasing the required number of parking spaces to be built on-site for any application proposing apartments on upper floors.

“We have also proposed sister legislation to require traffic, sewer system and stormwater pollution prevention studies to be performed and require the mitigation of any concerns found in those studies or the abandonment of an application that does not meet those standards,” Lupinacci said.

Additional related legislation, which would be enacted with the other two, would prohibit the use of newly acquired parking lots in downtown Huntington from being used by applicants to calculate parking requirements, as has been used in the past to grant relief for required on-site parking, Lupinacci said.

Who wants these changes, and why?

Lupinacci said he and town board member Ed Smyth, co-sponsor of the resolutions, are following through on their campaign promises made while running for election in 2017. 

He said using residents input, “We have crafted a solution to the problem of inappropriate development across our town, most notably in historic downtown Huntington Village, where the impact will be felt most, as it is one of the only areas in town where we have the sewer infrastructure to support the type of development that many believe had run amok in the years preceding my administration,” he said.

Residents have also been very vocal at town board meetings in demanding that the town amend code to preclude overdevelopment of the town. Zoning changes will not apply to projects already approved by the town.

What are some of the recommendations?    

The recommendations to be discussed include increasing the required parking to be provided on-site from one parking space per apartment to 1.5 spaces per studio or one-bedroom apartment plus 0.5 spaces per additional bedroom; and creating a new density limit on new construction or projects that expands the footprint of existing buildings by requiring the combined square footage of upper floors not to exceed 150%  of the first floor. 

A public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 20 after being postponed from March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A meeting location has not yet been set, but the town board normally meets at town hall on Main Street.

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