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Editorial: Let reason govern new development in Elwood

An architectural rendering by Robert M. Swedroe Architects

An architectural rendering by Robert M. Swedroe Architects and Planners showing the front and rear views of a four-unit building designed for The Seasons at Elwood, a 360-unit senior housing development proposed for the site of the Oak Tree Dairy in East Northport. Credit: Robert M. Swedroe Architects and Planners

Long Island's special strain of anti-development hysteria has reared its head in Elwood, where residents opposing a proposal for over-55 housing are making arguments that defy reason. And it's not just residents acting out -- the local school board is getting in on the lunacy. Fear is trumping facts, and it needs to stop.

The development in question is The Seasons at Elwood -- luxury condominiums pitched for 37 acres on Elwood Road occupied by the Oak Tree Dairy. Usually, communities fight to keep industrial uses, like a dairy, out of residential areas. Here, they're fighting to keep residences out of a residential area.

The most mystifying argument is that the development will strain taxpayers by bringing too many new students into the Elwood school system. Remember, this is housing for those 55 and older. Plus, the developer has offered to have buyers sign covenants banning anyone younger than 18 from living there. Plus, the school district would reap an additional $1.9 million in taxes -- far more than the incremental cost of educating a few extra kids who will never show up. Plus, Elwood is losing enrollment -- a 6 percent drop over the last two years.

Another argument is that there will be an increase in traffic from the proposed 360 town homes, reduced from 444 by developer The Engel Burman Group in response to community concerns. What's not mentioned is the tanker trucks that enter and exit the dairy that will be taken off the road. Or the fact that among the biggest contributors to traffic are the high school and middle school just north of the site.

What is incontrovertible is that graying Long Island needs these kinds of developments; senior housing sells out as quickly as it is built.

The Huntington Town Board should reject the loud opposition drowning out the proposal's supporters -- some of whom would like to move there -- and allow The Seasons at Elwood to go forward.