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Melville residents seek building moratorium

Residents from seven Melville civic groups and the local fire district came to last week's Huntington Town Planning Board meeting to request a moratorium on further development along the Long Island Expressway service road in Melville. They say proper long-term studies should be completed and that community concerns, mostly about traffic, should be addressed before more construction is approved.

LBA Melville Associates has submitted an application to demolish the existing building at 270 South Service Rd. and build a six-story office building in its place. Last year, the town zoning board of appeals approved the application with conditions, including getting approval from the Melville Fire District for variances regarding the safety of the building, such as height.

"We want them to slow down," said Fred Gross, president of the Northgate @ Melville, HOA, Inc. civic group and acting president of the Joint Civic Associations of Melville and Huntington. "We want a balance between development and planning. Not just put one building on top of another building on top of another building."

Before the planning board's regular agenda, a special meeting was held at the request of the civic groups. A representative from the fire district read a statement from chairman Robert Reiser urging a moratorium due to traffic concerns.

Other community groups in support of a moratorium include Villas, Millennium Hills, Tuxedo Hills, Coves, Pineridge, Sweet Hollow and Kenwall Day Camp.

Kathleen Deegan Dickson, outside counsel for LBA Melville Associates, said her client is working on ways to help ease traffic concerns. She said her client is donating a strip of land that will allow Walt Whitman Road to be widened so a designated right-hand turning lane to the South Service Road can be built.

Some residents suggested a moratorium for one year, while others suggested waiting for one year after the nearby Canon building opens in 2013 to monitor the expected increased traffic from that facility.

"I don't know how long it should be," Gross said of the moratorium. "It might take two years, it might make 10, whatever it takes."

A planning board public hearing must be held before the application can be voted on. Board chair Paul Mandelik said LBA Melville Associates must submit information requested by the town planning department, which will then set the public hearing.

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