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Oheka Castle owner withdraws plan to build condos

Neighbors of Oheka Castle were critical of plans

Neighbors of Oheka Castle were critical of plans to builds condos on castle property. Credit: Raychel Brightman

Oheka Castle owner Gary Melius said he has withdrawn his application to build 90 condominiums in a four-story stone building with parking underneath on the lower portion of castle’s front lawn.

"I just want to make sure I have all my ducks in order," Melius said Thursday. "I’m just taking my time, that’s all."

He requested last month an adjournment of a Huntington Town Board public hearing on revoking covenants and restrictions on castle property and a neighboring parcel because he wanted to speak again with neighbors about his latest condo proposal.

The hearing was postponed until Oct. 20, but Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci announced the application had been withdrawn just before Tuesday’s scheduled hearing.

Melius said in September he needed the adjournment so he could meet with the Cold Spring Hills Civic Association, which expressed concerns about the plan.

Plans in 2012 for a 190-unit senior community were proposed for part of the Oheka property and a parcel owned by the Cold Spring Hills Country Club. The Cold Spring Hills Civic Association supported that proposal because it would preserve the golf course, but that plan fell through.

In order for Melius to move forward on the new plan, the covenants and restrictions, which preserve the golf course and addresses traffic signals and a future sewer system, needed to be removed.

Michael Archbold, vice chairman of the civic association, declined to comment Thursday on the withdrawal of the latest plan.

In September Archbold said while most residents support Oheka Castle, as an association they had no opinion on the development plan and that association members had not yet had a chance to meet, vote and gain a consensus on it.

A September letter to the town from Howard D. Avrutine, the Syosset-based attorney representing the country club, says the country club is "vehemently opposed" to the new plan. The letter outlined its opposition to the use of East Gate Drive — which is owned by the country club — as an entrance for the condos.

"While there is a purported limited access easement over a portion of the Club’s property for delivery vehicles only in order to access Oheka Castle, the above-referenced applicant has no rights whatsoever to utilize any portion of East Gate Drive or the Club’s property for any purpose other than delivery vehicles," the letter says.

Avrutine’s letter also says plans show construction of a sanitary pump station, which would require use of county club property in order to be connected to the Nassau County sewer system, something the country club would not support.

Melius said a complaint filed in Suffolk County State Supreme Court in September over those issues by Avrutine seeking a declaratory judgment against him is a "slap suit."

"They’re saying I can’t use their easement, which has been in use for 90 years," Melius said. "They’re just trying to stop me from what I’m doing, knowing they can’t win. There’s no agreement that says I can’t use the easement."

Avrutine could not be reached for comment.

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