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Hundreds of residents at Elwood meeting oppose 55+ condos

An architectural rendering by Robert M. Swedroe Architects

An architectural rendering by Robert M. Swedroe Architects and Planners showing the front and rear views of a four-unit building designed for The Seasons at Elwood, a 360-unit senior housing development proposed for the site of the Oak Tree Dairy in East Northport. Credit: Robert M. Swedroe Architects and Planners

More than 200 Elwood residents, parents and students Tuesday renewed criticism of a proposed high-density development for those 55 and older that would be built near the high school and middle school.

"It's a stack 'em and pack 'em, high-density multifamily unit" project, said Jim Cameron of the Preserving Elwood Now community group and director of development for the Greater Huntington Civic Group.

The Elwood PTA helped organize the meeting, held in the Middle School cafeteria, about the condominiums planned for the 37-acre Oak Tree Dairy property in East Northport.

For months, residents and school officials have said the proposed condos for the 55-and-older crowd will snarl traffic and imperil children walking nearby.

In March, the developer, a subsidiary of The Engel Burman Group of Garden City, sliced the number of units to 360 from 444.

That did not assuage Elwood schools Superintendent Peter Scordo. "Notwithstanding the reduction in the number of units, it appears there are no material differences between your proposed plan and the original plan," he wrote the developer's lawyer May 12.

The Board of Education and civic groups also have said the development, called "The Seasons at Elwood," will strain taxpayers by bringing in too many new pupils.

However, Michael McCarthy, the developer's lawyer, says the firm offered to require buyers to sign covenants banning anyone younger than 18 years old. And the school tax revenue should rise to about $2 million from $117,000 now.

"It's a great tax-generator for the school district that doesn't have any commensurate demand for services; we're a little befuddled as to why the school district and PTA would be opposed to it," he said.

School board vice president Dan Ciccone said he proposed that the developer post as much as $30 million that the school could draw from if the project boosts school enrollment.

"They laughed me out of the room," he said.

Town councilman Eugene Cook said he would vote against the development. "It's too high-density for me," he said, adding he had rejected campaign contributions from the developer.

Cameron, the community activist, called some aspects of the developer's marketing "misleading." For example, he said, the covenants banning children could be overturned by the homeowner association if -- after a public hearing -- three of five town board members agree.

The developer's plans include upgrading traffic signals, adding sidewalks, and building a modern sewage-treatment plan to slash nitrogen released into the groundwater.

With Mackenzie Issler

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