By Connor Beach
The May 17 Huntington Town Board meeting will be held at a location close to the site of a proposed mall that will be the focus of what’s expected to be contentious public hearing.
The board voted Tuesday to host the upcoming meeting at Elwood Middle School (478 Elwood Road, Elwood), which is a short drive away from a sprawling site along Jericho Turnpike where developer Villadom wants to build a 486,380-square-foot commercial center.
In order for Great Neck-based Villadom’s plans to move forward, the town board would need to amend the town’s Horizons 2020 Comprehensive Plan to add the 49.28 acres to the major commercial corridor along Jericho Turnpike. A zone change is also required.
Those proposals will be the subject of the public hearing at the upcoming meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
Villadom’s plans include office, retail and medical spaces, along with parking for 1,929 vehicles, according to town documents.
The site is located at the northwest corner of Jericho Turnpike and Manor Road — west of the Mediavilla Orchards Farm Stand.
Since it was first proposed, the plan has generated opposition, including a “Stop the Villadom Mall” Facebook group and online petition that had garnered 3,756 signatures as of deadline Wednesday.
Lisa Bloomstein, of Dix Hills, and Andrew Kaplan, of Elwood, created the group and petition.
Kaplan said the opposition is more than a subjective, “not in my backyard” reaction. He cited concerns expressed by nearby residents, including traffic, added pressure on the Greenlawn Water District and negative environmental effects.
“Beyond the emotional aspects of this, there is real objective data that’s been provided. At this point, we don’t know why the town has not kicked this back to the developer, or looked for more independent study and analysis,” Kaplan said.
A call for comment to Villadom’s Great Neck location was not returned before deadline.
Councilman questions date, venue change
One councilman questioned the Huntington Town Board’s decision to reschedule and relocate an upcoming meeting that will feature a public hearing on Villadom’s planned commercial center.
Councilman Mark Cuthbertson, the lone member of the five-person board to vote against the decision, said, “What is the criteria we are using for designating the meeting at this place?”
He added, “We have a zoning application of a certain size, but do hearings on smaller applications deserve to be held in those communities?”
Cuthbertson also voiced concerns with security.
The board voted to reschedule its May 15 meeting to May 17, and again to host the meeting at Elwood Middle School instead of the town hall meeting room. Both decisions were approved, 4-1.
”Councilwoman Joan Cergol said she supported the venue change because the middle school offers more seating to accommodate the large number of people expected to attend the public hearing.
The town will not have the capability to live broadcast the meeting via its website, Altice and Verizon Fios due to the venue change, but town officials said they will be able to stream it via Facebook Live.