The owner of a lot on the corner of Route 25A and Park Avenue in Huntington has partnered with a local church to set up a food pantry and an outreach program on the historic site after failing to get approval to develop the site for medical offices.
Deer Park-based developer Dominick Mavellia said he has agreed to a free, year-to-year lease with Mastic Beach-based Iglesia La MiSion Long Island to operate programs that could eventually include church services and English as a second language classes.
“I spent a half-million dollars on a plan that would have cleaned up that corner, but they didn’t want that so I think feeding the homeless is a good option,” Mavellia said.
Lore Carbajal, co-pastor of the church, said the food pantry will be open Tuesdays from noon to 1 p.m. “We open April 18 and look forward to being a part of the community,” she said.
The church has partnered with Bellport-based Lighthouse Mission, a mobile food pantry organization, to provide the food.
In April 1790, George Washington stopped at Platt’s Tavern, a popular eatery on the site at the time, to thank residents for supporting the war.
Workers last week started cleaning up the lot and painted the building, a former gas station, yellow, lime green, red and bright blue. A sign in English and Spanish went up Wednesday explaining what would be happening at the site.
Town spokesman A.J. Carter said code enforcement officers visited the site on Wednesday and a summons would be issued for having signs without a permit. Carter said the owner would have to get site plan approval from the planning department and zoning board of appeals variances for front and side parking. Mavellia has not applied for any permits in connection with the building.
Mavellia in the spring of 2015 proposed a 10,000-square-foot urgent care and medical office building at the site, but opposition from residents and historians derailed the plan over complaints that it did not fit the character of the Old Huntington Green Historic District. The proposal required a zoning change from residential to one that allows professional offices.
The town’s Historic Preservation Commission voted in October 2015 not to issue a certificate of approval for the plan. Mavellia appealed but the town board never brought the application to a vote.
“What killed it was that there was a petition by neighbors,” which required a four-vote supermajority for the town board to approve the application, Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said. “There was not enough support.”
Paul Warburgh, president of Old Huntington Green Inc. said he would support a church on the site as a permitted use, but “a food pantry is not a permitted use, it can be an adjunct to a church but a church can’t be an adjunct for a food pantry.”