Posts Tagged ‘housing’

Town Board Rebuffs Mayoka’s Call for Moratorium, Will Move Forward with Avalon Vote in Two Weeks

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

By Rosey Mulderrig, on September 7th, 2010

Tuesday’s Town Board meeting started out with a bang. This was the last meeting before September 21st when Board will vote on whether to downzone 29 acres in Huntington Station for Transit Oriented Development (TOD). If TOD zoning is approved, AvalonBay will have cleared all zoning hurdles and move a step closer to beginning construction of a 490-unit high-density housing development in Huntington Station. If approved as written, high density TOD zoning is also approved for any developer that can assemble a 10-acre parcel of land within half a mile of Huntington Train Station. A group of TOD supporters held a rally in the front of Town Hall while opponents in a car with a bullhorn circled, loudly proclaiming all that they say is wrong with TOD. Among the Supporters who call themselves YIMBY’s (Yes in My Back Yard) were Dee Thompson, President of the NAACP’s Huntington Branch, Richard Koubek, President of the Huntington Township Housing Coalition and Lisa Tyson, Director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition. Ironically, Thompson, Koubek and Tyson do not actually live in Huntington Station, the neighborhood that will have AvalonBay’s development in its backyard if TOD zoning is approved.

The Town Hall meeting was unusually crowded for a 2pm session. It was standing room only with most of the attendees showing up out to support their position on whether or not AvalonBay and TOD is good for Huntington. Resident Chris O’Donnell is so firmly against the development that he says he recently listed his house and will follow through on selling it and moving his child to a new district if TOD is approved.

Lisa Tyson says that Huntington does not need any more single family housing but must move forward with multi-family units to keep up with the times. She says that Long Island needs this TOD and implored the Town Board to approve TOD. She told them that this smart growth development will be their legacy.

Huntington Station residents Emma and Rick Riccardo went door to door with a petition against TOD zoning and found that 99 percent of the roughly 100 neighbors they visited are against the proposed development. Emma says that the schools cannot possibly handle any more students when some are already learning in closets. She has worked in the hospital and says that adding roughly 1,000 more people will stress an already overworked and overwhelmed staff. She also feels that trying to get an ambulance down Park Avenue with the additional cars that TOD will contribute is “an accident waiting to happen.“ She concluded saying “beehives are busy, good and useful but when you disturb them, well, see what you get.”

Huntington Station resident Dan Fucci says that although AvalonBay is powerful and has lots of money behind them, he feels that he and those who oppose the development have “the eye of the tiger and they intend to go the distance and win.” Fucci appealed to the Town Board to stand with the Huntington residents who live the American Way rather than aligning themselves with outside forces.

Alissa Taff commended the Town Board for moving ahead with their consideration of TOD despite threats of litigation it has aroused. Ken Christiansen, founder and director of the Huntington Township Housing Coalition says that it is important to look at the economics of the whole thing. He stated that the development would put spendable dollars on the street, which in turn will bring investors into the area.

Richard Koubek says that AvalonBay will bring $100 million in much needed funds to an economically challenged community. “When completed, AvalonBay will bring 360 families who could earn $120,00 a year with very few school children. With 122 units of affordable workforce housing for families who could earn between $45,000 and $120,000 a year, most of it rental housing, AvalonBay will help stem the flight of young workers and senior citizens who can’t afford“ to live in Huntington.

Huntington Station resident Zoe Taylor is a strong supporter of the development.  Her sons have moved away to lead successful careers and lives in another state. If housing were more affordable, it is possible that they would have remained and made solid contributions to Huntington, she opined

As the debate continued, both sides represented themselves very passionately, albeit the Say No to AvalonBay folks were a bit more boisterous. Councilman Mark Mayoka expressed his concern that the Town needs to focus on ridding the area of escalating crime before it adds high-density housing. He put forth a resolution to place a one-year moratorium on the vote for TOD zoning while the town focuses on fixing the area and investigating the impact the Avalon project will have on Huntington. Mayoka’s resolution was not seconded. Supervisor Petrone reiterated that he is committed to the down zoning vote taking place on September 21st and that is when it will happen.

Let's All Be Huntingtonians – Town Hall Debate Over Avalon Bay, Downzoning Vote Postponed

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

By Village Tattler, on July 7th, 2010

Huntingtonians listen to Station Resident Chris O’Donnell explain why he’s opposed to Avalon Bay 

Tuesday night’s Town Hall meeting was dominated by a spirited discussion of whether downzoning Huntington Station and allowing Avalon Bay’s proposed 490-unit development is good for the Town and Huntington Station. The Town Hall auditorium was packed with advocates on both sides of the issue, and while not everyone registered for a three-minute turn at the dais, enough did to stretch the meeting out over four hours to a late end well past 11:00. Ironically, a flicker in the power supply may have lent a merciful hand to keep the meeting from running even longer by temporarily knocking out the air conditioning. For every degree the temperature in the room rose, a couple more seats lost their residents, and the line of speakers shortened. The temperature of the debate was just as high as the scorching heat all day, hecklers and supporters on both sides of the downzoning issue were disruptive enough that Town Supervisor Frank Petrone had to threaten cancelling the public portion of the hearing. Invoking civility, Petrone insisted the crowd hold itself to a higher standard imploring, “Let’s all be Huntingtonians” and respectfully allow everyone the right to hold and express an opinion without being interrupted or jeered.

No downzoning vote
In a last-minute move several hours prior to the meeting, the Town Council removed a vote on downzoning from the meeting agenda. The Trustees themselves were divided on whether it was appropriate to further extend the deadline they impose upon themselves to vote on the issue. Ultimately they decided to extend the deadline to September with Supervisor Petrone and Councilwoman Jackson in opposition. Both indicated they did not feel an extension was in order, because there was still plenty of time within the existing deadline for more consideration of the issues surrounding downzoning. The supporters of extending the deadline noted that additional time will allow for Avalon Bay to hold 2 – 3 more public information sessions that were promised last night and Councilman Mark Mayoka noted that the additional time will also be helpful for the Council to understand whether or not a supermajority will be required to approve the downzoning proposal.

Avalon Bay VP, Development of Long Island explains the benefits his company’s proposed Huntington Station project will bring to the town 

Avalon Bay spokesman Matt Whalen expressed his disappointment with the extended deadline while acknowledging the company has work to do in order to be “welcomed into the community”. He asked that interested parties attend the new information sessions AB will hold because the company feels that much opposition to the project is a result of misinformation and rumors that AB would like to address directly. The new info sessions have not yet been scheduled, but Whalen promised to keep everyone informed with updates on the AB website and elsewhere. Whalen went on to say that high-density housing is not a bad thing and in fact the large numbers of new residents that the proposed AB development would bring is a good and needed change for Huntington Station. AB and Whalen say that the influx of new residents will come at a low price to the schools because AB’s data indicates their development will add 84 – 95 kids to the district while building 109 single family homes as the current zoning allows for the property will add 120 – 135 kids.

What is the cost of this development to the rest of town?
Resident Charles Manos expressed skepticism with Whalen’s student projections. Manos claims it is more than a coincidence that the estimated property tax increase associated with the AB plan ($2,000,000 of which $1,600,000 will go to the school district) so closely matches the estimated additional cost to the school (80 kids X $20,000/year = $1,600,000). Manos suggested that the number had been reverse-engineered and in the process the projected number of students lowered so that the projected school district costs for the new kids would not exceed the projected new school district revenue that will result from the development. Manos says the district should expect the project would add between 170 and 230 kids – a number consistent with the nearby Highview development. Using the midpoint, 200 new students, Manos says the cost of these new kids to the district will be $4,000,000 leaving the district with an annual shortfall of $2,400,000 between the new tax revenue stream and the new students costs. Manos said he’s sympathetic to those looking for affordable housing, but pointed out that “in the interest of affordability, every other house in the district becomes less affordable” because the houses in the rest of the district will see their taxes rise to cover the shortfall he predicts AB will create.

Charles Manos says costs to the school district will be much higher than projected 

Other cost concerns raised by residents include sewage, traffic and abatement of toxic chemicals in the parcel’s soil. Park Avenue resident Loretta Luiguino says she’s wanted to hook into the sewer district for years and called AB “line jumpers” for being given permission to hook 490 new housing units to the town sewers before the homes in her neighborhood. Several residents of Huntington Country Farms, which is adjacent to the proposed development, described existing traffic patterns in the neighborhood as “at capacity” and asked how adding another 700 – 1000 cars in AB could be accommodated without bringing Park Avenue to a standstill and overwhelming Huntington Village parking lots when the new residents inevitably drive into town for shopping, dining and entertainment.

Smart growth
Advocates of AB voiced themes of smart growth, the need for affordable housing and the notion that a large number of hardworking, taxpaying new Huntingtonians living next to the train station will bring energy, eyeballs and cash that will combat crime and blight in Huntington Station not to mention being a boon to businesses in the Station and the rest of Huntington. A number of civic and business groups were represented as supporting the AB development including the League of Women Voters, Huntington Chamber of Commerce, the Huntington Housing Coalition, Vision Long Island and the Long Island Progressive Coalition. Former Huntington resident Maritza Silva-Farrell of the LIPC explained how she and her family had to leave Huntington and move to Brooklyn because they could not find affordable housing in Town.

Centerport residents Mike White, Tim White and Jeff Love say Avalon Bay should be allowed to build in Huntington Station 

Many AB supporters carrying YIMBY signs echoed the LIPC call for more affordable housing to prevent a brain drain that they say is causing Huntington’s young people to move elsewhere in search of more affordable housing. YIMBYs Mike White, Tim White and Jeff Love are Centerport residents and Harborfields HS grads living with their parents and looking for affordable digs so they can stay in town. When asked to quantify “affordable”, the White brothers noted that student housing at SUNY Stony Brook runs $500 – $700/mo and that something under $1,000/mo fits their affordable definition. By all appearances these are the kind of bright, energetic young people the town should be encouraging to stay. Hitting their pricepoint for housing may be a stretch as even the lowest priced one bedroom units proposed by AB will cost more than $1,000/mo. On the other hand, a search on Craig’s List for Huntington apartments priced $1,000/mo or less returned 90 results this morning.

As the debate gets more complicated, sometimes it is hard to know which way is up 

Huntington Station Resident Ira Trane who lives nearby the proposed development expressed his concern that a small group of vocal naysayers will successfully derail a proposal he supports wholeheartedly and believes will be of significant benefit to Huntington Station and the Town. Station resident Sarah Lansdale also supports the proposal because of the range of housing it offers and it is in walking distance to the train station, which she believes will cut down on traffic. Supporter and Station resident Barbara Joe Kingsley pointed out that in her opinion those in favor of AB had been more polite and quieter throughout the evening, but that the town council should not mistake that for meaning there are fewer AB supporters in the Station than opponents.

Daniel Karpen checking the footwear – maybe the EIS is lost in a clog? 

Is a crowded hollow still a sweet hollow?
As the meeting wound down, Alyssa Sue Taff, Sweet Hollow Civic Association’s President, explained how there have been multiple high-density developments in South Huntington. She says that individually, they are not problematic and many are well run. Her concern is that the cumulative impact of these developments adds to the congestion, pollution and what she believes is an already over-crowded Long Island. Taff fears that downzoning a square mile of Huntington Station will accelerate this trend by making it easier for multiple high-density projects to move forward in the neighborhood and that even if AB is a positive on its own, continuing to add density to the Station is not a good long-term plan.

All VT Avalon coverage here.

Alyssa Sue Taff is concerned about ever more crowding 

Crowd rallies for planned housing near mass transit

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Originally published: June 28, 2010 8:22 PM
Updated: June 28, 2010 9:08 PM

More than two dozen people rallied late Monday afternoon to show their support for the proposed 490-unit AvalonBay Transit Oriented District in Huntington Station, a development designed to offer housing near mass transit to people of varying ages and incomes.

The demonstration, organized by the Long Island Progressive Coalition, a community advocacy group, came two weeks after a rally opposing the same development drew nearly 50 people to a Huntington Town Board meeting.

“This is a response to members of this community that are lying about the good this project will bring,” Lisa Tyson, executive director of the progressive coalition, said. “We want the board to know that the public supports this project.”

Holding signs saying “Yes in my Backyard” and shouting “YIMBY,” supporters of the project said it would reduce reliance on cars and bring needed tax and business revenue into the community.

The 26.6-acre site, north of East 5th Street and south of the Long Island Rail Road tracks, is within a quarter mile of the train station.

It is now vacant and zoned for single-family housing.

AvalonBay has proposed building both rental and for-sale units, with at least 25 percent devoted to “workforce housing” for people who work in the area and meet income qualifications.

Plans call for a clubhouse, swimming pool and outdoor play areas in addition to the housing units.

At the rally, David Hanover, a lifelong Huntington resident who is a junior at Cornell University, called for approval of the project so he can live in Huntington after he graduates.

“I want this to remain my backyard,” he said, channeling the LIPC rallying cry.

Ruth-Claire Weintraub, another lifelong resident, said that for years Huntington Station has been a dumping ground for the town.

“It’s not a dumping ground, it’s my home,” she said, “and I want it enhanced by AvalonBay.”

The Town Board must approve rezoning before Avalon Bay can proceed with the project.

Earlier this month the board postponed the vote until July 6.

Advocates: Play Ball With AvalonBay

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

By Danny Schrafel –


Advocates: Play Ball With AvalonBay

Supporters urge town board to approve zoning for 530-unit housing development

A nearly three-hour marathon hearing regarding a 530-unit housing development in Huntington Station brought out a wide range of supporters along with pointed concerns about affordability, traffic, infrastructure and Section 8 housing in the development.

More than 50 people spoke at the Huntington Town Board’s public hearing regarding AvalonBay Communities’ proposal to invest $120 million to create 424 rental units and 106 for-sale town house homes located one-third of a mile from the Huntington train station. Of those, 132 will be market-restricted workforce housing – the largest such creation of workforce housing on Long Island. More than 1,100 people could live in the development, AvalonBay officials said.

The hearing was intended to address two issues – creating a special zoning district called the Huntington Station Transit Oriented District (HSTOD) that would allow for 20-unit per acre density and changing the 26.6-acre tract to that zoning designation once it is created.

Nat Board, of the Long Island Progressive Coalition, the group that marshaled many of the supporters Tuesday night, framed his analysis by painting Huntington as a baseball team that needed all of its players – seniors, young people and growing families – in the game to thrive.

“If some of our players have no chance at all to do their best, then all of us are the less for that,” Board said. “Team Huntington needs all the strengths those people have to give, but they have to be able to stay here… they need AvalonBay and we need to give it to them. And so we say to manager [Frank] Petrone and his four coaches – please, play ball with Avalon.”

Eaton’s Neck resident John Lineweaver, a World War II veteran who served in the U.S. Marines, likened AvalonBay to Levitt developments for soldiers following the war.

“I am here because I’m motivated to express my concern and support for the up-and-outs living with the down-and-outs, and that’s what affordable housing is all about. That’s what America is all about,” he said. “We need to support young, skilled workers’ capacity to live in our hometown.”

Major focal points of concern and opposition were focused on the project’s density and impact on infrastructure like roads and sewers. Councilman Mark Cuthbertson stressed that concerns would be sent back to AvalonBay and Vice President for Development Matt Whalen for a response to be placed on the record.

“How do you fit 530 units on 26 acres? There’s only one way to do that. You build four-story buildings,” Matt Harris, who lives blocks form the proposed building site, said. “I’m not opposed to townhouse apartments on this property. It certainly beats the hell out of having the homeless … but four-story buildings? That’s a bit much.”

However, AvalonBay spokesperson Judy White said the site plan does not include any four-story structures, and the three-story buildings are to be situated at the rear of the property near the railroad.

Huntington Station resident Rich McGrath lashed out at the town board, accusing them of violating a U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring the town not to concentrate low-income housing developments in Huntington Station.

“What I am totally opposed to was high-density, low-income housing that always found itself in one place,” McGrath said. “Where are the Donald Piuses, where is all the Section 8? Huntington, or maybe South Huntington… when you propose high-density, low-income housing, it’s always in one school district. The U.S. Supreme Court told this town, ‘stop it. It’s illegal.’”

McGrath said he initially supported AvalonBay because of the private sector investment and accused the town and AvalonBay of trying to sneak Section 8 housing into the Huntington development. Supervisor Frank Petrone said if management discovered qualified Section 8 tenants through their screening process for affordable units, they couldn’t dismiss a tenant just for that reason.

“As they review it and they find someone qualified, if that person happens to have a Section 8 certificate, you really can’t deny them. That’s federal law,” Petrone said.
Huntington Station Enrichment Center Director Dee Thompson threw her support behind the proposal and dismissed McGrath’s concerns about potential Section 8 tenants in AvalonBay.

“All of this hullabaloo about Section 8 – Section 8 people have to live also,” she said. “It’s affordable, there’s nothing wrong with it, so all of this is nonsense. If you manage properly, you won’t have to worry about who lives in the units.”

When the development is populated, each resident is expected to have less than 1.5 cars, while parking is being provided for 1.9 automobiles per head, a point of concern for several speakers. According to Tom Mazzola, of VHB Engineering, Surveying and Landscape Architecture, traffic studies based on standards in the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ trip generator manual and years of studying AvalonBay properties on Long Island indicate the Huntington Station development would generate an average of 266 vehicle trips during the weekday morning rush, 322 in the afternoon weekday rush and 273 during the Saturday rush.

Whalen said if a demand becomes apparent for shuttle service from Avalon to the train station, it’s something they would explore. They are also in talks with HART to re-route a bus to create a stop at the AvalonBay community. He said he has walked the route for the proposed walkway, and the density of the community, security, lighting and walkability improvements would make it a safer path to the train station.

Petrone urged Whelan and AvalonBay to continue their work with the community, and particularly those with concerns or in opposition.

“Lights, traffic and these are still things that still need to be discussed. These are things I’m sure we’ll be able to work through,” he said. “I will pledge to continue to work with you and the communities in attempting to make this a reality… the ultimate goal is something I don’t believe many people are in opposition to.”
Related website:

Advocates Rally for Affordable Housing in Huntington

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Advocates Rally for Affordable Housing in Huntington
Group braves the cold to show support for development

More than a dozen supporters, organized by the Massapequa-based Long Island Progressive Coalition (LIPC), chanted “Yes In My Backyard” in support of the Avalon Bay development planned for Huntington Station amid a pro-affordable housing rally at Huntington Town Hall on Saturday.

A pro-affordable housing rally was held at Huntington Town Hall on Saturday.

LIPC’s YIMBY campaign, as it’s called, aims to counteract those who tend to be opposed to developments in their communities, a sentiment commonly referred to as NIMBYism, or Not In My Backyard. The Avalon Bay project is a proposal for more than 500 mixed residential units—a quarter of them affordable housing—within walking distance of the Long Island Railroad’s Huntington station.

“The lack of affordable housing on Long Island is forcing members of our generation to leave the island,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, the rally’s organizer. “We are tired of finding our only affordable rental option to be a basement apartment. We need affordable rental apartments as we build our careers and set down our roots.”

The shortage of rental properties on Long Island has long be known to contribute to what has been dubbed “The Brain Drain,” in which the region’s college graduates move to New York City or out of state in search of a place to live within their means while earning an entry-level salary. There has been a 35-percent decline in the number of people between the ages of 25-34 on LI, according to a 2008 report by the Long Island Index.

“I think it really speaks to what the need is on Long Island,” said Christopher Capece, development director for the Long Island region at Avalon Bay. The firm owns 2,000 units in eight communities. The most recent one to open is Avalon at Charles Pond in Coram. Avalon also has plans in the works for similar developments in Rockville Centre and Mitchell Field.

“We have been working with Avalon Bay to refine their plans,” said A.J. Carter, Huntington town spokesman, who added that the town supports the project, which was proposed last year.

“Long Island cannot afford to lose any more of its best and brightest due to the inability of our Towns to provide affordable housing,” said Jay Goldman, a local young professional who was at the rally. “We want to stay.”
Related website:

Saying 'Yes' to Affordable Housing on Long Island

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

Saying ‘Yes’ To Affordable Housing On Long Island
— By Deborah Wetzel

Everyone’s heard of NIMBY (“Not in My Backyard”), but you’ll soon be hearing more about YIMBY- “Yes in My Backyard.”

It’s a campaign that’s been started by the Long Island Progressive Coalition to create more affordable housing. In their rollout meeting in December, representatives of groups including Catholic Charities, Vision Long Island, the LIA Housing Committee, AARP and Sustainable Long Island created an advisory board and reached a consensus: to build a movement to rally supporters to attend town hall meetings where affordable housing initiatives are usually derailed and to bring the issue of affordable housing to elected officials.

“We always hear about NIMBY and the negative connotation behind it. We feel YIMBY has a positive message. It means that we can all share in this issue,” says Lisa Tyson, director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition. “We need people to stand up and say ‘Yes, we want affordable housing.’ It’s changing the paradigm in how people look at their communities.”

Affordable housing is becoming a crisis on Long Island, according to Maritza Silva-Farrell, the coalition’s affordable housing organizer. “And so many groups have been working for years and years and don’t succeed because everything stops at the town hall meetings. And then nothing gets done. What’s unfortunate is that the ones who get to the town hall meetings are the opponents. The ones who need the housing don’t get to the meetings – those are the people we want to represent.”

Silva-Farrell adds: “It’s not just about developing new housing. It’s about keeping the housing we have already and keeping rents controlled. Some people might be concerned about taking open spaces and tearing trees down and it’s also about keeping what we have right now and better living for everyone.”

The goal of YIMBY is to support smart growth initiatives, cluster development and to ensure new housing is LEED – or Energy Star -certified. Support for individual projects would depend, at least in part, on their environmental characteristics: redeveloping brownfields is good, while developing open space less so.

Another goal is to support initiatives like inclusionary zoning, which is being considered in Southampton. Inclusionary zoning would mandate that a certain percentage of new housing units be affordable. “We have support from the community on this and also from the mayor of Sag Harbor and it’s just a matter of time to see what happens,” Tyson says.

The organizers hope that, one day, YIMBY will be credited as the campaign that helped create affordable housing in Suffolk and Nassau counties. “And everyone can come to us when they need help. We can guide and teach people about grass roots organizing and make a difference,” Silva-Farrell concludes.