A proposed body shop on Prime Avenue might be good for the look of damaged vehicles but it won't do much for the charm of the community, according to some.
Residents raised concerns against the controversial project at a public hearing last week at , weeks before a possible Feb. 6 final vote by the Huntington Town Board.
"We really don't think it should go through," said Chris Koopman, who lives nearby to the vacant lot which sits at 114 Prime Ave. at the intersection of Route 110.
Koopman, like 22 others who spoke out in opposition of construction, share concerns of home devaluation, environmental impact and traffic safety if the project goes through.
Joanne Berlant, a dialysis patient who lives in a condo across the street from repair station site said the project will negatively impact the quality of her community.
"We moved to this neighborhood because of its historic distinction. Every home is over 100 years old. These homes have integrity, some of them were built during the Civil War," said Berlant, originally from historic Valley Forge, Pa.
Also at issue is the location of the lot which is situated in an area known for heavy flooding.
"What about when it rains and we have three-foot floods," Berlant said. "We're going to see fluids from the cars in the water flowing down the street."
At the Jan. 10 meeting, Town Board member Mark Cuthbertson suggested looking into the possibility of using a vacant gas station lot on New York Avenue nearby to the proposed site on Prime Avenue, for the body shop.
While the residents at the meeting were unanimous in opposition to the proposed project, the applicant's attorney, Herbert Haas, said the lot being is ready to be put to use by the owner who obtained it in 2004.
"It's been approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Planning Board and the Historic Commission," said Haas. "Further, the property is zoned for industrial use."
Many residents disagree not only with Haas but the process itself — which has brought the project to the brink of reality.
"We'd like to know who put this through the Zoning Board five years ago," said Jim Santa, who lives nearby to the application site. "We think something's rotten and we're getting a very bad deal. This shop can devalue 20 people's homes, the most important investment in their lives."