The town Board of Zoning Appeals continues to grapple with whether to give clearance to adding a Montessori school to the West Hills Day Camp site.
The attorney for the day camp, meanwhile, put on a full-court press, saying the expansion was within their rights.
"We are permitted as of right now to use the existing property as a school," said attorney Thomas Abbate, who represents West Hills Day Camp owners Edward and Kevin Gersh. "We have the room and the buildings. It is the natural move."
The Gershs, who also own West Hills Montessori, a private school for toddlers through sixth-graders, were informed in the spring that their lease for the school would not be renewed. As a solution, they proposed to open a school on their campground at West Hills Day Camp on Sweet Hollow Road, which is currently only in use June through August.
Abbate said this plan would prevent the students who attended the Montessori school from being displaced and that no additional construction would be needed.
"Opening the hearing again allowed some discussion of the pros and cons," Abbate said of those who were unable to address the chairman at the first hearing pertaining to this issue in June. "This was excellent because we learned that the berm which was recommended to us by the Planning Department was not favorable to the neighbors."
A berm is a sod mound used to reduce surface runoff.
The Planning Department suggested one be built into the camp's plan since water was often running down the camp's sloped property into the neighboring wetlands, Abbate explained. According to Dr. William Walter, of the Huntington Beautification Council, however, the berm would dry out the wetlands instead of helping to prevent flooding.
"If we are going to have a wetland that we are really proud of, it is most important that the berm not be created," Walter said.
Although the berm was added into the plan upon the Board of Planning's request, Abbate said it could easily be taken out.
"We do not have to do any site improvements under the law," he said. "We agreed to construct the berm because we were told it would be beneficial. Now that we know the neighbors don't want it we will gladly cancel its construction."
Complaints also ran over from the previous hearing about the camp's loud parties. Abbate said it was decided at a 1997 hearing that the camp could only be used for non-profit events and that they have been "adhering to that religiously since then."
Some community members, such as Joan Fumento of Goldfinch Lane, don't think that is enough.
"What's the difference if it's non-profit or for profit?" she asked. "They have been encroaching on the community day and night. We are entitled to peace and quiet."
The Gershs are now awaiting a vote by the Board of Zoning Appeals, which could occur at next Thursday's meeting at the earliest.
"We are really hoping this happens soon because we need to open this school in September to accommodate the students from the Montessori school," Abbate said.