Dr. Jan Witkowski opposed the TD Bank plan to build on Fairview and New York Avenue.
The Town of Huntington commented in its long term vision - Horizons 2020 - that “…citizens identified traffic congestion as a primary issue of concern.”
This will not surprise anyone who travels along New York Avenue, crossing the Fairview Street-High Street intersection. If there was ever a place where we don’t need added traffic complications, this is it.
And yet, the Zoning Board of Appeals has granted TD Bank a variance to tear down what was originally the Hotel Huntington, but better known as the Aboff Building, and build a bank with not one, not two, but three drive thru lanes!
In reaching this decision, the ZBA wrote that “…the current plan..will have a net positive impact on traffic and general congestion in the downtown area,” a conclusion based on a traffic analysis paid for by TD Bank. The ZBA arrived at this conclusion without, as far as I am aware, having the traffic report scrutinized by an independent engineer or providing time for public comment.
This is unfortunate. The report is flawed in the way, among others, it estimates the traffic at the proposed bank; its failure to analyze the impact of the entrances and exits on traffic flow along Fairview Street and through the intersection; and by its failure to consider the effects on pedestrians.
TD Bank is insisting that this bank has to have a drive-thru facility, but if this is the case, then the bank does not need to be in this location. Indeed, drive-thru customers would find access much more convenient if TD Bank used the empty building at the southwest corner of New Street and Carver Street, or built outside the downtown area, on vacant lots north of Prime Avenue on Rte. 110.
The town recognizes its duty to its citizens. Four members of the current Town Board - Frank Petrone, Susan Berland, Mark Cuthbertson, and Glenda Jackson - endorsed Horizons 2020, which declares: “The Town should aim to preserve and enhance its aesthetic character and identity by setting high standards for design quality, protecting neighborhoods and hamlet centers from incompatible influences, and by enhancing the Town’s scenic corridors, civic facilities, and landmarks.”
Fine words. Does the Town Board have the courage to act on them?