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Seasons at Elwood developer agrees to reduce East Northport development size

Huntington resident, Kim Camron shouts her opposition to

Huntington resident, Kim Camron shouts her opposition to the building of a housing development "Seasons of Elwood" prior to the start of a Huntington Town Board meeting at Town Hall on the evening of June 17, 2014. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

The developer of the Seasons at Elwood, the age-restricted community slated for East Northport, has agreed to reduce the number of units to 256 from 360.

Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said Saturday that the change was worked out during meetings in recent weeks between Garden City-based Engel Burman and representatives from the community.

"The developer and the community groups worked very closely over the last month or two, and the latest proposal . . . is a result of the good effort put forth by both parties," he said. "No resolution to this was going to make anyone on either side 100 percent happy. It's something that makes us all move forward."

An email message went out to the community outlining the latest proposal of 6.8 units per acre with 43 multiunit residential structures on the site of the Oak Tree Dairy on Elwood Road. The email reported that the developer also pledges a one-time $500,000 donation to the Elwood school district.

Jan Burman, president of Engel Burman, said the proposal "looks very encouraging. We have been working hard and negotiating with the town and the community for a long time. But until the board approves it, it's not a done deal."

He declined to discuss further details.

Mary Jane Mackey, who attended the most recent meetings as part of a committee of community members, said the proposal is probably the best compromise that can be reached.

"It's livable; it's not overpowering," she said. "It's more than I would want, but you just can't keep beating your head against the wall."

The developer must submit to the town an amended site plan for the development that is to be built on the 36.87-acre site.

Seasons was proposed in 2012 as a more than $200 million project that would include 482 condominiums for people age 55 and older, along with a 20,000-square-foot clubhouse with indoor and outdoor pools. The condos were expected to sell for about $450,000, according to the developer.

The community objected to the size of the project, its potential impact on traffic and its density. Concerns were later raised about toxins found in the soil after an environmental study.

The town board held a public hearing on June 17 about changing the zone from 1-acre residence to retirement community district. The board has 90 days from the public hearing to put the resolution to a vote.

Approval of the change will require a supermajority -- at least four of five votes of the town board -- because a valid "protest petition" signed by owners of more than 20 percent of the land directly opposite the proposed development was presented to the town board last month.

After being asked by the town to weigh in, the school board publicly criticized the plan over environmental concerns, anticipated traffic around schools that abut the site, and concerns that residents within the closed, private community would not have the same vested interest in Elwood that current residents have.

"Regardless of the reduction of housing units, the Elwood school board was never negotiating number of units," board vice president Dan Ciccone said Saturday. He added that the developer had originally promised $1 million to schools.

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