The Huntington Zoning Board of Appeals is extending the public comment...

The Huntington Zoning Board of Appeals is extending the public comment period for a limited part of an application to convert the Indian Hills Country Club in Fort Salonga, seen here in 2019, into a senior housing community.

Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

The Huntington Zoning Board of Appeals chairman has agreed to extend the public comment period for a limited part of an application to convert the Indian Hills Country Club in Fort Salonga into a senior housing community.

The change comes after an attorney representing the Fort Salonga Property Owners Association, which is opposed to the development, requested an extended comment period to discuss a consultant's report by Melville-based H2M Architects & Engineers that was published on the town’s website on July 11. The association also requested an additional public hearing. 

The period to comment on the proposal had been closed in January. But zoning board chairman Jerry Asher said in an Aug. 11 statement he would allow written comments only for an additional 10 days. The comments will be restricted to those about the consultant’s report. 

“The Board is cognizant of our responsibility in the handling of an application and committed to allowing interested parties to participate in the discourse,” Asher’s statement said.

Written comments are due by Aug. 22.

The zoning board is considering issuing a special-use permit for the project, which received preliminary subdivision approval from the Huntington Planning Board in May 2021. The community, proposed by Hauppauge-based developer Jim Tsunis, is approved for 86 units of housing with a combined clubhouse and fitness center. 

In April, Asher extended the time frame for a vote on the special-use permit to 30 days after the consultant's report was posted on the town website. The zoning board is not bound to accept any findings or recommendations in the report, Asher’s statement said. The earliest the board could have voted on the permit was Aug. 11.

Karl Huth, the attorney for the Fort Salonga Property Owners Association, cited a previous case before the board to support the association’s requests for the additional hearing.

Zoning board's Asher rejected that request, saying the cited case was not a good example. In that case, the submission was made by an applicant and not a consultant, and members of the public were not allowed to comment, Asher said.

“The Consultant Report is distinguishable as it is not a submission of an applicant,” the statement said. “There is also no case law nor Code Section that requires a further Public Hearing on the Consultant’s Report, and none will be held.” 

Huth did not respond to a request for comment.

John Hayes, president of the Fort Salonga Property Owners Association, said his organization disagrees with Asher’s decisions but will submit their written comments.

“We will definitely take advantage of the comment period,” Hayes said. “Even though it’s so restrictive, we’ll comment on as much as we’re allowed to.”

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