Posts Tagged ‘Mark Mayoka’

Huntington Town Board Sinks AvalonBay Proposal

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010
By Spencer Rumsey on September 22nd, 2010

 

The Huntington Town Board rejected a rezoning proposal Tuesday night in a 3-2 vote that would have created a “transit-oriented district” to allow a developer, AvalonBay Communities, to build 490 apartment units on 26 acres in Huntington Station.

Avalon Glen Cove North in Glen Cove. The Avalon Bay company wanted to build a similar development in Hungtington Station rejected the zoning needed to move the project forward Tuesday, Sept. 20.

The decision came after months of increasingly heated wrangling as opposition grew to the proposed apartment complex, and the issue became caught up in local town politics. The developer had promised to set aside at least 20 percent of the rentals for affordable housing and provide the Huntington school district with up to $1.5 million in mitigation costs to make up for an anticipated influx of new students. The item on the agenda drew hundreds of people.

Outside Town Hall protesters chanted that AvalonBay, a nationwide builder of high-end developments, was unfair to local builders by using contractors and workers from Connecticut and elsewhere. Inside Town Hall, the corridors were jammed, and voices were loud.

Opponents seemed to outnumber supporters, judging from the proliferation of their printed red-and-white signs proclaiming “Stop AvalonBay and Downsizing Huntington,” their white-washed Burger King crowns stamped with the phrase “Say no to AvalonBay,” and the many blue and red Conservative Society of America T-shirts.

The Town Board room itself was filled to capacity. The local fire marshall wouldn’t even allow AvalonBay’s attorney from the law firm Farrell Fritz to view the proceeding.

Noting the intense atmosphere, Supervisor Frank Petrone said, “Your passion speaks loud and clear.” He added, “This town could be better for all the energy this has produced.”

Councilwoman Glenda Jackson, a Democrat, noted that she’d been “appalled” at some of the “vicious comments” from opponents to the project, which she said were “over the top.”

She said that as a single parent who’d grown up in the town and had lived in Huntington Station, the project would go far in addressing the housing and economic needs of her community. But many of the opponents didn’t agree.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Petrone said before the vote was cast, “you’ve shown leadership; don’t show dividedness.”

Under the terms of the rezoning proposal, the law needed a super majority to pass.

When Democratic Councilman Mark Cuthbertson followed Republican Councilman Mark Mayoka in opposing the measure, the crowd knew the law was toast.

Democratic Councilwoman Susan Berland, who’s made no secret of her political ambitions (such as for the supervisor job, some say), had previously announced her opposition to the zoning’s high density allowance (18 units per acre).

Cuthbertson cited the school board’s rejection of the Avalon project (after voting in favor of it last year), and said that “without their good faith” he couldn’t go forward.

In the end, two Democrats and one Republican defeated the measure, and only Supervisor Petrone and Councilwoman Jackson, both Democrats, were in favor.

After the vote, Berland told the Press that she still held out hope that AvalonBay would come back to the town with a proposal for much lower density, such as 14.5 units per acre. The site now allows for 109 single-family homes.

AvalonBay had said that without the higher density zoning it wouldn’t develop in Huntington.

Supporters of the project were disappointed, to say the least, but they were not surprised because the town board had been backpedaling for months.

“Their job is to lead,” said Lisa Tyson, executive director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition. “They reacted.”

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.