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Huntington Station residents confront Avalon planners

A developer's representatives last night hosted Huntington Station area residents at a meeting in a bid to answer lingering questions about a proposed large-scale housing development in their community.

More than a dozen residents showed up and some hammered Avalon Bay Communities vice president Matt Whelan with questions about traffic, home values and the environment.

Whelan patiently took question after question, telling residents his company had held several community meetings already, conducted local market research and still remained willing to hear from residents about their concerns.

Several residents, however, remained apprehensive, when interviewed on the sidelines of the meeting."I think this project is a gamble," said Dan Fucci of Huntington Station. "And Huntington Station is in no position to take another gamble. It's just not the right time and place for this high-density development."

Last night's meeting was the first of three public sessions hosted by the company. Last week, a small group of residents met privately with Avalon officials.

First proposed in 2008, the development would build housing near mass transit for people of varying income and ages, with the aim of decreasing dependence on cars. The proposed development is a quarter mile from the Huntington Long Island Rail Road station on a 26-acre wooded parcel.

Avalon officials say there have been more than 45 meetings with the community and organizations about the project.

A March 9 public hearing before the Huntington Town Board appeared to garner overwhelming support for the project, which is expected to cost $100 million. But in months following that meeting, opposition seemed to grow. The town board twice delayed a vote on a zoning change for the project.

Avalon officials have since scaled back the project, which now would consist of 490 units in about 25 two- or three-story buildings. The density would be 18 units per acre - 80 percent of which would be rentals with 25 percent reserved for affordable housing. The complex would have 141 one-bedroom, 244 two-bedroom, and 105 three-bedroom units. There would be no Section 8, government-subsidized housing.

The developer has said the projected increase in students in the school district is between 78 and 99. Avalon has agreed to a one-time $1.5 million payment to the school district and will pay for installation of a new traffic signal at Park Avenue and East Fifth Street.

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