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Developer withdraws application for Villadom project

Kris Torkan, president of Villadom Corp., responds to

Kris Torkan, president of Villadom Corp., responds to concerns about the Elwood development proposal at Moose Lodge in Greenlawn on April 18. Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

The developer of an $80 million shopping center proposed along the border of Dix Hills and Elwood has withdrawn the application, saying he plans to start over and design a project the community can support.

Great Neck-based developer Kris Torkan, president of Syndicated Ventures and Villadom Corp., said in an email to Newsday on Thursday that, after “careful consideration,” he withdrew the application for changes needed to get the project started.

“We do so, to provide us with sufficient time to re-craft a plan that the community will support” Torkan wrote. “Tireless hours have been invested over the last five years, with the community and town officials, to craft a development that we felt offered a unique shopping and professional office experience, while also providing a much needed commercial tax base for the Elwood [School] District.”

He said that over the next few months, design engineers will make modifications to the plan while he and his team continue community outreach.

But at a packed meeting Thursday, angry residents chastised Huntington Town board members for allowing the application to progress despite requiring a change in the town’s comprehensive plan and widespread resident opposition.

They also told the board they are not interested in a return of any scaled-down Villadom application.

“What you see behind me is not a fluke,” Patrick Deegan said, referring to the crowd. “This will be here at every turn; every decision, every law, every ordinance will be checked, not by me, but by members of this community.”

About 100 people signed up to speak at the meeting, including Maria Mediavilla, the daughter of the property owner, who spoke in support of Torkan.

Some residents also called for the removal of the current planning board.

Torkan wanted to build about 245,000 square feet of professional offices, a 90,000-square-foot health/fitness center; about 240,000 square feet of retail/commercial space and a 15,000-square-foot library for Elwood.

Attorneys for Syndicated Ventures LLC, the applicant for the Elwood Orchard development proposal, known as Villadom, sent a letter to the town clerk’s office Thursday afternoon withdrawing the application.

The project was introduced in 2013 and would have required a change to Huntington’s comprehensive plan.

Community opposition to the project escalated over concerns about environmental and traffic concerns.

On Wednesday, Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci — at the request of the developer — postponed the public hearings about the project scheduled for Thursday night. The first was to consider amending the comprehensive plan to make way for a zoning change from residential to commercial for the undeveloped parcel of land along Jericho Turnpike at the northeast corner of Manor Road. The second hearing was to consider the zone change.

Town board member Ed Smyth said the hearings were improperly canceled by Lupinacci without a vote from the entire town board.

“It was inappropriate at the last minute, literally a day before the public hearing, for the applicant to ask for an adjournment without any showing of some emergent situation or some unexpected new information about the application,” Smyth said Thursday.

Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia said that in previous administrations a request for an adjournment was granted without a vote of the town board.

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