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Late move at Huntington Town Board meeting keeps East Northport project on track

The site of the proposed Matinecock Court affordable

The site of the proposed Matinecock Court affordable housing project at Pulaski and Elwood roads in East Northport. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

A housing development proposed 43 years ago for East Northport was saved at the last minute Thursday night from being delayed until next year.

A resolution to change the Matinecock Court affordable housing project from a mix of rental and homeowner units to cooperatives had been tabled before the start of Thursday night’s Huntington Town board meeting. The proposal also would change how the development will be taxed.

But hours later, Huntington Town Board member Joan Cergol, after hearing testimony from meeting attendees urging a vote on the resolution, decided to sponsor it.

"I think it’s time for us to move forward with this," she said. "We can discuss a lot of our questions later but at the moment, I’m very satisfied with this and very confident and prepared to sponsor this resolution."

The resolution was added to the agenda but tabled for a vote until December’s meeting.

Earlier in the meeting, town board member and Supervisor-elect Ed Smyth said no one on the board "would vote for it, no one would sponsor it."

The development was the subject of a 2000 federal fair housing settlement between the Town of Huntington and Housing Help Inc. The project, which was first proposed in 1978, was opposed for decades by the local community amid accusations of racial and class bias.

In May, Levittown-based developer Peter G. Florey said his company would build 146 cooperative units, replacing the proposed mixed-use development of 146 rental units and owner-occupied condominiums for the 14.5-acre property at Pulaski and Elwood roads.

Because the latest proposal amends the original agreement, the town and planning boards had to sign off on the changes.

Smyth called the new proposal "an overly complicated rental project," in a lively exchange with Lois Fricke, of the Long Island Builders Institute, during the meeting's public comments portion. Smyth said he was intentionally left in the dark and did not find out until Saturday the board was set to vote Thursday on the resolution. He didn't get the actual amendment until Wednesday, said Smyth, who didn't explain why he believed he was intentionally excluded from discussions.

Before Cergol stepped in, Florey had vowed to find a way to move on with the project.

In December 2020 the previous developer of the development cited insufficient financial support and cost escalations magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason he could not go forward with the project.

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