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Groups Urge Town to Settle Housing Suit

Town Board to take up development on Ruland Road.

Housing advocates at Town Hall Tuesday. Photo Credit: Pam Robinson
Housing advocates at Town Hall Tuesday. Photo Credit: Pam Robinson
Housing advocates on Tuesday urged the Town Board to accept a proposed settlement of a lawsuit that would allow apartment rentals at a development in Melville.

 The NAACP lawsuit, which reaches back more than a decade, involves a plan for apartments on Ruland Road. The settlement would allow 77 one-bedroom, 34 two-bedroom and six three-bedroom rental apartments. Others, such as the Sweet Hollow Civic Association, say the apartments should be sold, not rented.
 Richard Koubek, president of the Huntington Township Housing Coalition, said, "The time has come" for affordable rental apartments. Citing the decline in enrollment of students in the Half Hollow Hills school district which has led to a decision to close two schools, Koubek said, "This is a case of some people in Dix Hills working against Dix Hills."

 The Town Board is scheduled to consider the proposed settlement next Tuesday in a 7 p.m. hearing at Town Hall. Tuesday's press conference outside Town Hall brought together a coalition of groups and individuals, some of whom have been on opposite sides on other housing issues.

Among the advocates, such as the NAACP, the Progressive Coalition and the Melville Chamber of Commerce, was Matt Harris, a community activist who opposes the Avalon Huntington Station development on East Fifth Street.

 Harris said, "I opposed Avalon Bay Huntington Station, not because I am against housing, but the density of the project in a suburban home community was inappropriate. It just did not fit. It still doesn't. "I was appalled at the carpetbaggers telling me I should accept 20 units per acre in my community. "Now we have an appropriate housing project planned for Melville called Ruland Knolls that some of these same carpetbaggers oppose because it is a rental in their own community. This, coming from a school district planning to close 2 schools due to low enrollment. Where is the logic in this?"

 While some see the apartments as essential to keeping families in the area, others said young people desperately need affordable housing. Mike DeLuise, president of the Melville Chamber of Commerce, said he regularly fields calls from people saying they can't find suitable housing. If a solution isn't found, DeLuise said, "We might as well consider Long Island as a future ghost town."

 Town spokesman A. J. Carter said the proposal that would come before the Town Board next week could change because discussions are continuing, and that the judge in the case simply wanted the Town Board to vote without specifying the details of the actual building plan.

 Developer Peter Florey spoke Tuesday to outline his firm's Knolls plan, which would include housing preferences for veterans and the disabled. But the Knolls plan is not what the board would be voting on next week.

 Town Councilwoman Susan Berland said the Knolls plan was not part of the proposed settlement. She said ownership was a preferable option to rental housing and would provide younger people better opportunities.

 Sweet Hollow Civic Association president Alissa Taff also said her organization was not opposed to the original plan for one-bedroom, owned apartments but did not want rentals for the site.
Laura B. December 04, 2013 at 08:59 AM
One of my children has left the state, and the second may be on the way.
matt harris December 04, 2013 at 09:27 AM
Simply put, condo sales on Long Island (except out east) are DEAD. Equity in them is non-existent. The crash of 2007/08 killed condo sales, and it has not yet come back. One bedroom condos for sale? That is a rational solution to the young brain drain? Not all college grads want to live with their parents or share a house. We better wake up before the last aging LI resident turns off the lights for good....
TM December 04, 2013 at 12:05 PM
The money is in rentals not buying that's why all these projects start out as home ownership and go to rental condos or apartments. If anyone really believes that this is being done to help out families then you are wearing blinders. Rent on Long Island is just as outrageous as the price of housing. That is why people are leaving and that is why enrollment is down. This project isn't going to make a difference in school enrollment if they are rentals only a bigger turnaround of children who will have to move when their lease is up and destroy friendships they have come to make.
G December 04, 2013 at 12:08 PM
Rentals are not a problem. Uncontrolled rental development would be a problem. And Section 8 rentals would be a colossal problem. Whether a 100-unit rental complex like this one is the appropriate level of development is the real question. For one, I'm not sure whether it is or not.
majortom1981 December 04, 2013 at 02:31 PM
The problem is not affordable housing for young people. its affordable housing closer to the city. 3 years ago I got my 2 bedroom condo for $155k. With maintenance fees and everything I pay $800 a month (this includes taxes). I live in Medford . That's plenty affordable for anyone. YEs these do not exist on long island.

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