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Seasons at Elwood project zoning change approved by Huntington Town Board

Barbara Donovan, left, an Elwood resident in opposition

Barbara Donovan, left, an Elwood resident in opposition of a controversial senior housing development, screams out after the Huntington Town Board voted to approve the development at a meeting on Tuesday evening, Aug. 19, 2014. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The Huntington Town Board voted to approve a zoning change that would allow the Seasons at Elwood, an age-restricted community in East Northport, to be built.

Residents crowded into the meeting room at Huntington Town Hall Tuesday night as the board prepared to vote on a zoning change, from a 1-acre residence to a retirement community district, for the 37.05-acre site of the Oak Tree Dairy on Elwood Road.

The board approved the change in a 4-1 vote. Town Board member Gene Cook voted against the measure, citing community opposition, the location and density.

The vote was called before the meeting's public comment section, causing the crowd to erupt in anger, chanting "vote them out," and demanding to be heard.

"The board felt at this point that we pretty much have heard . . . the arguments we are going to hear over a series of several town board meetings," Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said.

Normally a vote is taken after the public comment section, not before, as it was Tuesday night.

The controversial plan calls for 256 units within 43 multiunit residential structures.

"I can't believe what just happened," said Ronnie Bohrer, a 48-year Elwood resident who opposes the development. "They would not let us speak. Unbelievable. What a disappointment."

The developer, Garden City-based Engel Burman Group, proposed the project in 2012 with 482 condominiums for people 55 and older, along with a 20,000-square-foot clubhouse with indoor and outdoor pools.

The plan has faced constant opposition from nearby residents who worry about traffic, the environmental impact and the project's density. Residents have attended just about every town board meeting to register their opposition to the project.

The developer reduced the number of units to 360 and finally last month to 256 units. The condos are expected to sell for about $450,000, according to the developer.

"We are very pleased with the decision," said Steven Krieger, a principal with Engel Burman. "We had the support of a supermajority."

Approval of the change required 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 in June.

Next up for the developer is getting town site plan approval.

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