On Tuesday night, more than 60 opponents to the Avalon Huntington Station proposal gathered at the Huntington Public Library for a meeting to discuss the possible negative impact that the new AvalonBay development could have on the surrounding community.
"The idea of this meeting is to speak as one voice," said Vivienne Wong of Huntington while addressing the crowd. "We say no to re-zoning … we are not set up for this type of a development."
Opponents of the Avalon Huntington Station proposal also voiced their opinion last Wednesday at an AvalonBay information session held at Avalon's Melville location where the concept of re-zoning came up time and time again. The Town Board is set to vote on Sept. 21 to decide on AvalonBay's fate in Huntington Station. If Avalon Huntington Station passes, the 26.2-acre parcel of land along the north side of East Fifth Street will be re-zoned from a single-family housing community to a Transit Oriented Development (TOD). A TOD is a community based around a form of public transportation or in this case, the Huntington Long Island Rail Road station. However, the opponents to AvalonBay's proposal feel that the TOD would severely hurt the community.
"It would skyrocket the taxes because just the infrastructure that has to be put into place for something of this magnitude, as well as the ones that will be potentially following, it will fall right on the taxpayers," said Steve Spucces of Huntington, another speaker at the meeting. "… AvalonBay is not a benefit to us. No matter what they say, it is not a benefit. Therefore, if it is not a benefit, they cannot change the laws on our behalf because it's not a benefit. This is our land."
The 26.2-acre parcel of land is currently zoned and approved for 109 single-family homes, something the community is used to. Many in attendance were fearful that Avalon Huntington Station would change the character and quality of life in the area.
"It's the destruction of a single-family community to a massive rental/parking complex," Wong said. "… It changes the nature."
According to AvalonBay, the only property that would be re-zoned is the 26.2-acre parcel of property where Avalon Huntington Station would be located. The remainder of the half-mile radius would not be re-zoned.
While the re-zoning of the land is one of the main concerns of Avalon Huntington Station's opponents, they said they felt that the town needs to improve and move forward with the economic development of the area before more people are added to it. The potential overcrowding of the area has become another major concern.
"If this thing passes, all bets are off with the crime, with the gangs, with anything," Spucces said. "… Sheer overcrowding, sheer density, can't support it. The roads can't support it, the schools can't support, what else do you need?"
Wong added, "We're overcrowded right now. We've closed our school. We don't have enough room for 10 more children, never mind 100 more children. ... This is not about Avalon, this is about the re-zoning of 5,000 single-family homes."
AvalonBay has claimed that the proposed 490-unit development would bring less children into the school district than the 109 single-family homes which are currently approved for construction on the property.
"The laws and the zones that were put there by our predecessors were put there for a reason, and that's to protect us, the people, from corporations like AvalonBay," Spucces said.
At the end of the meeting one thing was agreed upon by all who attended.
"It went fanastic," said Jennifer LaVertu, who also spoke at the meeting. "That was a really good showing. I feel completely energized and renewed in the battle against AvalonBay and I really feel like we're going to win this thing."