The tale of 80 Jericho Turnpike delivers a message: The next offer could be worse.
The Syosset property was a mobile home park until residents were evicted in 2016. After developer Paul Laruccia acquired the property that same year, he proposed 61 units of senior housing and 44 market-rate apartments which would have required a zoning change. In early 2020, the Town of Oyster Bay held a public hearing where objections weren't widespread, but nearby residents raised familiar concerns about the impact on the environment, traffic, and schools.
More time passed. By November 2021, Laruccia was done waiting. Saying he hadn't received a definitive answer on the rezoning, he sold the land to an outdoor storage investment company. Now, the new owners want to build a parking lot for trucks, semitrailers and other vehicles. While the latest proposal isn't a done deal, residents are again objecting, citing similar worries like traffic.
The more Long Islanders reject the housing they need, the more they might get stuck with something else they don't want. As noted by the new developer's attorney, Anthony Guardino, anyone who lives near an industrial area like this one shouldn't be surprised because "that's where industrial uses are going to go.”
And the more local officials drag out the approval process, the more likely it is that developers will eventually stop trying.
That's why it's heartening to see The Cornerstone Westbury — a 130-unit project with 18 affordable rental units — move forward. It's Westbury's first project under its new transit-oriented development zone, and it moved relatively quickly. Westbury finalized the zoning in 2019 and developer Terwilliger & Bartone submitted its application in spring 2021.
But The Cornerstone also illustrates the tremendous need for well-priced housing — and the true impact of every "no" and every delay. For the 18 "affordable" units, priced between $2,021 and $2,567 a month, the project already has received more than 750 lottery applications. Those units are open to those earning up to 80% of area median income — a maximum of $123,100 for a family of four, according to the application.
Perhaps that's why the news that financing has been completed and work has begun on Matinecock Court — the 45-year-old East Northport affordable housing proposal — brings with it both an exuberant feeling of glee and an exhausted sense of relief. It is one example of a housing project where, thankfully, no one gave up. But it also serves as a symbol of the intransigence and resistance that frequently prevents Long Island from meeting its residents' needs.
Too often, we don't see a project like Matinecock Court come to fruition. Too often, we don't see a lottery like The Cornerstone's come to life. Too often, we end up with truck parking, or a warehouse, or an empty lot.
MEMBERS OF THE EDITORIAL BOARD are experienced journalists who offer reasoned opinions, based on facts, to encourage informed debate about the issues facing our community.