By Danny Schrafel
A proposal to convert the former Sun Ming property into a mixed-use building with six apartments above a retail store was rejected by the Huntington Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) last week.
The board voted unanimously to reject the plans by architect Edward Dickman, arguing that the applicant failed to provide adequate proof to warrant a special use permit and variances. The board said the plan was out of character for the neighborhood.
The plan for the 1000 W. Jericho Turnpike property, which lies at the intersection of Jericho Turnpike and Round Swamp Road, called for demolition of the Sun Ming structure and an adjacent, vacated two-family house and a two-story, 15,600 square-foot building to be erected in its place. A Mystique Boutique would go downstairs, with six apartments above.
“It’s obvious to all of us who are sitting here there’s got to be some marked improvement getting rid of this 1960s, Ming Dynasty rip-off and putting some used and useful building on this site and doing some site improvements,” ZBA Chairman Chris Modelewski said. “It’s a bad corner, and it needs some help.”
But this application, however, wasn’t the ticket, Modelewski said, and they failed to establish the necessity of dramatically overhauling the property.
“It seems abundantly clear… that the current land uses, while the buildings themselves may be outdated, the current land uses are eminently reasonable and make sense within the context of this neighborhood,” Modelewski said.
During the hearing, civic leader Alissa Sue Taff and others echoed Planning Board Chairman Paul Mandelik’s comments from last month. Then, he said the project was “not satisfactory” and out of character in the neighborhood.
“The Civic Association of Sweet Hollow Inc. has many concerns… We view the proposed plan as inappropriate for the area and extremely dangerous,” Taff said, adding it would make “a big traffic mess” even worse if approved.
Neighbor Steve Rossetti, whose home is above the proposed development site in terms of elevation, said the proposal was “too far-reaching” for the surrounding neighborhood and Jericho Turnpike. He urged a more modest proposal for the site, and for the Town of Huntington to demolish the blighted restaurant and two-story home in the meantime.
“I would not mind seeing a high-end retail store that would be scaled down in its size to be able to properly accommodate parking and mitigate some of the major traffic concerns that our community has,” he said.
Neighbor Kenneth Wilensky, of Round Swamp Road in Melville, agreed.
“I miss the Chinese restaurant. Great place. I miss the character that’s there. It’s a mom and pop area on Jericho Turnpike,” he said. “Sun Ming was great… what’s wrong with keeping what’s there?”