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Long IslandTowns

Residents sue to block planned senior development in East Northport

A change of zone, legal notice sign for

A change of zone, legal notice sign for a public hearing held in June still hangs in front of the property at 544 Elwood Rd. in East Northport on the afternoon of July 27, 2014. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

A group of Huntington Town residents has filed a lawsuit aimed at stopping the Seasons at Elwood, the age-restricted housing development recently approved for a dairy farm in East Northport.

The suit was filed last week in state Supreme Court in Riverhead on behalf of Lauri Holt of Huntington, and Lee and Ann Itzler, Richard Apollonia, Vincent Modica, David Prestipino and Ronald Starrantino, all of East Northport.

None of the plaintiffs could be reached for comment, but their Elwood-based lawyer, Wendi L. Herman, said their goal is to nullify the town's approval of the project. "Right now, our contention with the town is that what they did was insufficient and faulty in granting the zone change," she said.

The defendants are the town, its board and planning board; developer BK Elwood LLC and the Oak Tree Dairy Farm Inc., which owned the site of the planned 256-unit community for people 55 and up.

Huntington Town spokesman A.J. Carter said the town is not commenting on the litigation.

Last month, the town board voted 4 to 1 to approve a zoning change that will allow the homes in 43 multiunit structures on the 37.05-acre site.

The suit alleges that when the town rezoned the land to allow for the Seasons, it broke from its outline for what should be done with the land. In the town's comprehensive plan published in 2008, Herman said Huntington called for the site to be developed for low-density residential use.

The lawsuit also alleges the defendants failed to prepare a full environmental impact statement and failed to consider "significant adverse environmental impacts," including a soil management plan.

The suit also alleges that because the dairy had ceased operation, it should have reverted to zoning for single-family homes.

"Their [the town's] position was the Seasons of Elwood was better than a working dairy," Herman said. "The comparison is flawed, because what they should look at is the Seasons compared to what the dairy farm is actually zoned for, which is single-family homes."

Jan Burman, president of Garden City-based Engel Burman, parent of BK Elwood LLC, said he did not have enough detail about the suit to comment.

Hari Singh, president of Oak Tree Dairy, said the dairy is named in the suit but the allegations are not aimed at the dairy. "As I understand it, they are challenging how the town handles things administratively," he said. "I am not in a position to comment on how the town manages these decisions."

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