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Town Board OKs AvalonBay Zoning; 1 Man Arrested

Despite rejection by school board and pleas to stop apartment project, Huntington Town Board approves zoning change to clear the way for planning to begin.

The approved zoning for the proposed Huntington Station AvalonBay project by a 4-1 vote Monday — but not without a fight from some opposed to the plan.

Raucous from the start, the regular town hall meeting reached a boiling point just before voting regarding a zoning change which cleared the way for the planning and construction of 379 AvalonBay housing units in Huntington Station. 

Laboring to maintain order from the large, vocal crowd throughout the meeting, Town Supervisor Frank Petrone ordered security to escort Anthony Caruso, 60, from a front row seat at about 10 p.m. for disrupting proceedings as board members gave final opinions regarding the AvalonBay project.

Throughout the meeting, Petrone called for order and warned Caruso several times after being interrupted.

But the warnings eventually gave way to mayhem.

"You destroy everything!" yelled Caruso to Petrone as the board supervisor spoke regarding his AvalonBay zoning vote. After the outbursts continued from Caruso, Petrone signaled for security as a room full of stunned residents looked on, some gasped in dismay.

In a loud scuffle, Caruso was physically removed from the meeting by Suffolk County police and charged with 2nd degree harassment and disorderly conduct before being released on bail for arraignment at a future date, according to police.

Petrone said he was "a little disappointed" with some of the displays at the meeting, but "proud" of others who carried themselves as professionals.

"All of us have to be civil whether we agree with something or not," said Petrone.

A previous AvalonBay plan met considerable opposition from some in the Huntington Station community and was rejected by the Town Board in September. In March, the builders submitted a new, scaled-down proposal for review.

Despite what she said were "uncertainties" with the new plan on Monday, board member Susan Berland voted in favor of the revised AvalonBay project.

"It will bring immediate benefits and serve as a catalyst for even greater improvements and growth," said Berland. "The proposal now before us, if not perfect, is better."

At a meeting at Jack Abrams Intermediate School in Huntington Station earlier in the evening, the Huntington School Board voted unanimously against the AvalonBay project in a "posture of nonsupport based on financial impact.” 

"We've been completely thrown under the bus again," said school board trustee Kim Brown, regarding the AvalonBay proposal.

Before construction begins, AvalonBay must go through the entire planning process, said Petrone, after the vote. Monday's vote "means the zone has changed and they can proceed."

In a written statement, AvalonBay's representatives said they were grateful to their supporters and pleased with the vote.

"We recognize that we have our work cut out for us, but we are confident that, in the end, this development will help to bring the community together and result in a better Huntington for all residents,"  said Matt Whalen, AvalonBay's vice president for development.

Town Board member Mark Mayoka cast the lone vote against the AvalonBay plan.

The Suffolk County Planning Commission cleared the way for the town board's vote Monday by unanimously approving the zoning change last week in Riverhead. 

Mike Field of Huntington Station June 07, 2011 at 09:26 PM
The following homes in Huntington Station are listed as for sale on Zillow (an online real estate web site). http://tinyurl.com/HS-4Sale-060411 116 for sale for under $150,000 and 100 of them are foreclosures http://tinyurl.com/HS-4Sale-060411-LT150000 200 for sale for under $250,000 and 100 of them are foreclosures http://tinyurl.com/HS-4Sale-060411-LT250000 340 for sale for under $350,000 and 101 of them are foreclosures http://tinyurl.com/HS-4Sale-060411-LT350000 One bedroom rental units at AB are to be priced at $1920/mo (pg 114 DEIS). Two bedroom units at AB are to be priced at $443,250 and the rental units at $2,316/mo (pg 114 DEIS). Three bedroom units at AB are to be priced at $508,542 and the rental units at $2,466/mo (pg 114 DEIS). So for less than the price of one months rent for a one bedroom unit you could own your own house. The brain drain is caused by low salaries and high taxes not lack of housing.
Scott Brown June 07, 2011 at 10:03 PM
Before they cut off posts to this article, I'd like to make one simple point that seems to have been omitted. Short of constructing your own private onsite sewage treatment plant, municipal sewer access is necessary to build multifamily housing. Presently only Huntington Village, the northern portion of Huntington Station and a small portion of Northport Village have municipal sewer access north of the LIE. So the rest of north Huntington -- Cold Spring Harbor, Lloyd Harbor, and Huntington Bay aren't equipped to accommodate multifamily housing. When Huntington Village and Huntington Station elected to have municipal sewer service built, they invited higher density development. It is too late to turn back the clock and attempts to do so will not be upheld in court as history has shown. Huntington Station residents who long for a more pastoral environment should move to locations that do not offer municipal sewer service. Sorry. But those are the hard cold facts.
Patched Out 2 June 07, 2011 at 10:16 PM
@Michelle, I was refering to the group who was physically present at Town Hall. I can appreciate that people have concerns about the project but these concerns you mention are nothing new if you look back and read the newspaper clips over time. Same things were said about the area when developers wanted to build single family homes, yours included and every other housing project! My so called "tag line" as you call it is actually in line with the housing advocates in the Town of Huntington and our experience with them.... Really? You are "certain" that the taxes wont cover the cost to educate the kids? So you can say then exactly how many NEW kids for SD#3 will move into Avalon and exactly how much they will pay in taxes? And how about the fact that every single one of us in SD#3 continues to overpay for every single kid in the district given that we have the worst ROI on the North Shore of LI http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2011/01/educational_productivity/ So until my BOE starts dealing with this MAJOR problem, I dont buy into this "we cant afford to educate them" or "we dont have room for them". I listened to it for years about how the schools were so overcrowed and yet we have an empty school building sitting in the district. Furthermore, the hired consultant who was paid oodles of dollars said that SD#3 was at 80% capacity. So the real problem is that you have career politicians sitting the BOE who have gotten away with hiding these "facts" from us!
JohnnyP June 07, 2011 at 10:18 PM
So people who have lived here there whole life, have raised families, have invested in the community are the ones who are supposed to move! There was no problem before avalon decided to pay off the town board members. The zone was for 109 single family houses. The town just decided to up and change the zone to meet there own greedy needs. We are the established people of huntington. Why should we have to move, we bought our houses based on the fact that there was open space, and parks. Its the bleeding hart liberals in office that have destroyed our community. We have to give the poor housing, we have to build low income housing, its our duty!! Come on giver me a break. So a sewer system is an open invite for high density housing? Wow of course its so simple. That must be Petrone logic at work!
Patched Out 2 June 07, 2011 at 10:25 PM
Could it be another alais by chance? Just asking!
Patched Out 2 June 07, 2011 at 10:39 PM
Yep the people of HS who were uprooted in the 1960's had to move when the federal program of Urban Renewal came through. And if you are who I think you are hiding behind this alais, you were born in and raised in Nassau county and that is why you won't know this! I am sorry to say, that there is still alot that you dont understand about these complicated matters but no room to spell them all out here...
JohnnyP June 07, 2011 at 10:56 PM
Kim go fusk yourself seriously. I was born and raised in huntington station my entire life. How dare you question where I live. how long have you lived here? Your high view apartments should have been turned into something useful like a parking lot for all the hard working people who have to commute into the city everyday. So sorry I am not on Avalons payroll like you and your other cronies. Why dont you get off assisted living and low income housing ad contribute to society.
J. Christopher June 07, 2011 at 11:33 PM
@ Scott Brown, The sewer line in question, that runs down 5th ave., was put in place 35 years ago, exclusively for the Huntington Country Farms residences. The Avalon Bay site does NOT fall into the sewer district for the town of Huntington. It is a 6" forced main line, which in layman's terms means, it is pumped all the way over to N.Y.A. to a much larger 18" gravity pipe that takes it all the way down to the sewer plant in Halesite. Over time, our Town has let others outside of the sewer district, hook up to the very same pipe by adding more pump stations. Carolan nursing home on the corner of Park and Pulaski, and Telephonics on 5th ave. were snuck onto the same line. There may be others. How much more (stuff) do you think one 6" pipe can handle before failure. 379 homes with washing machines? I highly doubt it. No mention of replacing the sewer main in the street in the DEIS either. How many millions will it cost to tear up a mile of road and replace? Who gets to pay for that? Why are some allowed to hook up outside of said district but not others? We are not a bunch of backwoods, NIMBY, hillbillies Scott. We are concerned residents, who have lived here for many years and have done our homework. We have been crapped on by those in charge, for decades now. We are a product of what they have created. When you chose to jump into the game and state your "hard,cold facts", make sure you come to the table correct.
Andrea June 08, 2011 at 02:17 AM
Way back in 1978 was when my dad said bringing low-income housing to Huntington Station would kill the area. Boy, was he ever right about that. Those bleeding heart liberal politicians back then only wanted to look politically correct. And yes Kim D. - and this is especially for you - I've been living in this area a lot longer than you've been living in those low-income apartments, and I have a very long, accurate memory. That area, before the construction of the low-income housing, used to be a safe community. My grandmother used to do her vegetable shopping there. My mother's MD, Sam Teich had his practice there. It was a strollable village complete with Freddie Sforza, shoemaker, and the Huntington Station bank, and storefronts. Once those apartments went up and the low-income residents moved in to take over the area, I became afraid to park my car at the RR station for fear of being mugged, or my car's wheels would be stolen, or the entire vehicle would be stolen. Low-income housing attracts a less desirable class of people. Fact. Some are criminals - not all, but some, and they are the ones who ruin it for the rest. Today because of some of those low-income people we now have an area that in reality is extremely dangerous. Period. Shootings, murders, muggings - even the Guardian Angels were brought in as safety consultants. I avoid the area whenever possible, except for when I drive my bullet-proof car and wear my bullet-proof vest.
Dan June 08, 2011 at 02:59 AM
Let's help out district #3 by puting Avalon Bay residents into Harborfields #6. It is right on the boarder, just have the buses pick them up.
Dan June 08, 2011 at 03:09 AM
The Suffolk County deal said Avalon can go in if the public safety is is met, what does this mean? I hope it does not mean the taxpayers have to foot the bill for public safety? Avalon should pay for this...
matt harris June 08, 2011 at 11:42 AM
After reading all the above vitriol, I would like to provide some accurate data. Yes, I am against this project because of it's sheer density, but whether you think this is a good thing or a bad thing for Huntington Station, read the following: School District 04/05 08/09 Change Cold Spring Harbor 2,132 2,018 -5.35 Commack 7,561 7,671 1.45 Elwood 2,606 2,616 0.38 Half Hollow Hills 9,974 10,037 0.63 Harborfields 3,662 3,664 0.05 Huntington 4,203 4,445 5.76 Northport-East Northport 6,475 6,333 -2.19 South Huntington 6,138 6,019 -1.94 Nassau 209,112 203,592 -2.64 Suffolk 262,242 253,601 -3.30 Long Island 471,354 457,193 -3.00 I think you can see by this chart reflecting the decrease in school age children island wide. So why is SD 3 increased by 5% over the last 5 years while all other districts in the Town are flat or have decreased by the same amount? Now I know both the principals at AvalonBay or the Town Board do not give a hoot about this, but we the actual residents of Huntington District 3 do. We are the ones that will have to pay more to educate whatever numbers of children come out of this project in the years ahead.
matt harris June 08, 2011 at 11:48 AM
As far as the "other" Bonavita property on Pulaski between Lake and BAE, it could easily be connected to the same insufficient sewer line (thanks for that info, Mr. Christopher) on that 29 acre property, now zoned for 59 homes. Think the fine folk of Harborfields ( Mr. Cuthbertson's school district) would allow this? Just like the fine folk in Centerport NOT allowing 9 units an acre called Hilltop? Or a 7/11 at the old Shell station? There are 2 standards in this Town. One for Huntington Station (just dump what we don't want there, see "Rotondo waste transfer station") and the rest of the Town. Want to talk about homeless shelters? 60% of the Town's Section 8 rentals? A Shape up site? The argument that AvalonBay will reduce crime is laughable. Crime was reduced so much across from the train station that Highview gets a new, vinyl fence for protection! And half of it paid for by the rest of us! The only way crime will be reduced is by Huntington Code enforcement (maybe the new director will take this seriously) and Suffolk Police, who seem more interested in beating up old men at a public meeting than dealing with stabbings on Church street. Yes, I think it was a case of Town sanctioned police brutality. Petrone must be so proud of himself.
Ilene Fucci June 08, 2011 at 12:12 PM
@Matt, just when I think these 4 on the Town Council can't sink to lower levels, they manage to surprise me. I am tired of trying to explain the truth as it sounds crazier than any lies the Petrone administration puts out. I strongly encourage all residents to educate themselves and stay on top of the issues because the plans for the future of Huntington Township are very concerning. Attend Town Board meetings to see for yourself because the spin the media puts on it will never give you the full story. Do some research and you will understand why the media will never tell the full story. For example, the person who runs the Long Islander was also the PR person for the Huntington Housing Authority's recent project that SD 3 needed to hire a lawyer to fight. I can't imagine that the Town Board will allow the tapes from the June 6 meeting to ever be available to the public. Lets see what happens.
Jen LaVertu June 08, 2011 at 01:05 PM
@Ilene, The tapes from the original public hearing from Avalon Bay were altered (9/21/2010) as we all remember FrankPetrone calling me up to the dias to speak with him directly? It's not there.....ALSO the last public hearing for Avalon Bay from 5/16/2011 is not on the towns website and has not been added to Cablevision nor Fios. I am guessing they wanted to vote this in as quickly as possible, before the public was aware and THEN maybe in a month or so release the tapes. Thing is they film it from 4 different angles so rest assured, we will never see the brutality that Mr Caruso endured after it has been edited. So much for transparancy.
Marita Eybergen June 08, 2011 at 01:06 PM
Does any know what reason she gave for voting no to JUST NINE (9) units in Centerport????
Jen LaVertu June 08, 2011 at 01:09 PM
Hi Marita! (Is your e-mail not working??) Susan Berland stated that 9 units was too dense an in article in the Long Islander and Newsday as well.
matt harris June 08, 2011 at 01:13 PM
And also, know this. I was all ready to "throw the switch" for Huntington public access TV on Cablevision channel 79 in the fall of 1999 (FIOS and Direct TV did not yet exist). A fiber feed was brought into Town hall, all the equipment was in place and we were ready to rock and roll. Petrone voted it down then. It has taken 11 years hence for them to "see the light". Or have they?
Ilene Fucci June 08, 2011 at 01:24 PM
Bottom line folks, you need to attend these meetings and see for yourself. Until non political average citizens start attending these meetings, things will continue in the direction they have been going for a long time. The politicians in this Town are completely out of control. We could fill many volumes of books with the dealings of this administrations. Then election time comes and because they have tons of money they can pull off an election. Even if it is too much to go to every meeting yourself, organize a group of people and take turns going. The future of Huntington depends on it.
Marita Eybergen June 08, 2011 at 01:57 PM
Hi Jennifer, I must have missed this one for some reason, but thank you for the info.
Marita Eybergen June 08, 2011 at 02:11 PM
@Kim, just curious, do you know when and what year or even decade that they will build in ENPT or will this be tied up for years with stall tactics. Someone from ENPT just said to me that this will never happen. Can I call him on this one?
Greg Fitzgerald June 08, 2011 at 03:47 PM
Good points by Harry! A school board has NO BUSINESS meddling in civic/municipal issues. They are elected to provide educational services to our kids and that requires anticipating and reacting to projected student population trends...and NOT to try to affect them. This whole thing has developed an ugly life of its own on both sides. However, the NIMBYs are louder and the others are in the silent majority. The Town Board finally showed some conviction on Avalon Bay...and has earned my thanks.
Marita Eybergen June 08, 2011 at 05:24 PM
Well again, let's see how many years and decades this will take. I am pretty sure it won't happen in my life time but maybe my children's kids would see this happen. See NPT/ENPT fight against everything and they win. Look at that restaurant in NPT (Whale's Tale Inn) that wants to extend their hours and the people don't want them to so they say no and that will be the answer No. This would bring in business and jobs. If that were in HS it wouldn't be a problem, because you see ,what we don't want doesn't count. Same thing in Centerport, want to build there, do not bother because the answer would be no. So what is wrong with a 7 eleven where an old gas station was. I have seen some 7 eleven's and they are beautiful. Look at the one in Melville by Costco, it is nice. What was wrong with adding 9 Units in Centerport, because it is too congested, give me a break. The answer will be no know matter what anyone else wants because that is how they work.
Marita Eybergen June 08, 2011 at 07:21 PM
Wow, they actually approved it. Great news and thanks for the update.
J. Christopher June 09, 2011 at 10:36 AM
@ Matt, how did the population go up in Huntington Station? I have not seen any new housing or housing projects go in. Does this have anything to do with "illegal" apartments or the zoning board passing out C\O's for apartments, that do not meet the criteria, like they are handing out tic tacs? I wonder.
Marita Eybergen June 09, 2011 at 01:00 PM
@Kim, I beg to differ, I have seen people come and go in all the illegal housing in my area alone. I have one house on my block that has 13 bedrooms which the town discovered when the homeowner wanted to make their home legal which should be at most a 3 bedroom house. Yes some people are having children, but I bet if they did a study on the H/S area only (between Broadway and Pulaski & Pulaski to the school line which I think is 10th Ave) that is where the increase was. This is what happens when you have absentee landlords, they rent every part of the house. They will turn every room into a bedroom that is what PIUS also does. So a two bedroom house now becomes 5 bedrooms and for some reason Section 8 accepts that too. Not to mention extra cars, because that same house with the 13 bedrooms has at least 5 to 6 cars which they happen to park on the front lawn and in the street since they do not have enough parking space in their driveway. So we need to go back to going after all the illegal housing which turn every room into a bedroom.
Kyle June 09, 2011 at 02:34 PM
I resent you calling a 60 year old man elderly. He might be AARP eligible but 60 is certainly not elderly.
Angelo Garcia III June 09, 2011 at 03:35 PM
As a resident, I applaud the members of the Town Board to have the courage to vote for this project that is needed to keep Huntington the fantastic place it is. It's a shame people cannot discuss these issues rationally and civilly. It is my opinion that this project is needed in Huntington Station, Greenlawn, and Cold Spring Harbor to take advantage of mass transit and provide affordable housing.
Marita Eybergen June 09, 2011 at 07:12 PM
Trust me when I say they are not using the other bedrooms as office space or an extra bedroom as a guest bedroom. See that might be good for you, but not for everyone else. Unless you live in the area and I am not talking about the actual HS area I am talking about the area where no one wants to be for safety issues and fear, you will never really know what is going on, you can only assume. I live and walk the streets in my area, since I am one of the very few that is not afraid to walk this area that everyone else is afraid too, so I actually see what is going on first hand. So it is not the mentality, it is the reality.
Greg Fitzgerald June 11, 2011 at 03:24 AM
Do you see how much energy and brain power are being directed to this issue??!!? Let's get on board behind the resurgence of Huntington Station...and stop all this bickering...and actually use all this energy to make improvements. Sure, the NIMBYs can bring law suits to stop the train, but to what end??? Let's all take a deep breath and regroup toward a common goal.

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