Huntington Hospital seeks a zoning change to legalize some office space it has been operating in a residential zone, but some homeowners on a nearby street oppose the change.
The Northwell Health facility on Park Avenue owns eight homes on View Acre Drive, which serves as an access street to hospital entrances. The homes have been used as offices for years, in violation of the zoning code.
Dr. Nick Fitterman, Huntington Hospital executive director, said the request followed through with a pledge previous administrators made to town officials to rezone the homes as a commercial zone. The town board will next take up the matter in June.
"We want to be aligned with the usage of the houses," said Fitterman. "We want to keep them as they are but have the OK to use them for administrative purposes."
The hospital-owned homes include 28, 30, 34, 36, 36A and 39 View Acre Dr.
The hospital is in a legal agreement with the owners of 24 View Acre and 324 Park Ave. to inherit the houses when their owners die.
Residents on Cannon Court, which is part of a subdivision called the Cannon Hills Parcels that include Cannon Court, View Acre Drive and Maple View, say they are opposed to the zoning change over concerns about the impact on their property value, quality of life issues and added strain on the area's drainage problems.
They also say a zoning change violates covenants placed on the subdivision’s homes in 1939, covenants that can only be changed with approval from more than half of the homes in the subdivision.
Cannon Court resident Karl Huth, an attorney who represents the homeowners opposed to the zoning change, said homeowners questioned why the hospital did not request a special use permit to continue operating in a residential zone as they had for years.
"That is one of the big questions we have that we feel the hospital has never answered: Why do you need to change this to a commercial zone," Huth said.
They also are concerned about long-term plans for 24 View Acre Dr., Huth said.
Fitterman said at some point the hospital would likely build a one-and-half story Colonial-style building with 100 parking spaces to house ambulatory services such as a cardiology office, operating from, say, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and a parking lot at 24 View Acre Dr. He said the space would not be used for a helicopter pad, ambulance strip or urgent care facility.
"Any changes we make to the homes will be made in kind to keep the character," Fitterman said. "I think there is a fear we're going to do something outlandish, but we wouldn't do that. We're here to serve the community and be good neighbors."
In early April residents presented the town board with a protest petition requiring at least four votes to approve the zoning change.
At the April 13 town board meeting members adjourned a vote on the zoning change to its June 15 meeting to allow for more community outreach.