By Connor Beach
The Huntington Town Board voted last week to rezone a historic property on the corner of Main Street and Park Avenue in Huntington where a developer wants to build a 10,064-square-foot commercial building.
The zone change application was submitted earlier this year by developer Dominick Mavellia to allow for a commercial building “with space intended to be used for medical offices” to be constructed on the 1.06-acre property at 400 Park Avenue.
The property is the former site of the Platt’s Tavern, where it’s said George Washington once dined, and is currently occupied by what has been described by residents as an eyesore, a food pantry that’s painted in bright green, red, blue and yellow colors.
Mavellia’s plans for the property closely mirror his original 2014 plans for the site, which stalled before a prior town board administration in November 2016 when the board did not vote on the zone change application before deadline.
“We are excited to move forward and clean up this corner that’s been a plight on the community for many years,” Mavellia said in an interview Monday. “This is one of the good projects… It should have been approved three years ago when I went in front of the old board.”
The application to change the property, which is located within the Old Huntington Green historic district, from a R-15 residential to C-1 commercial zone was approved by the required supermajority vote of 4-1. Supervisor Chad Lupinacci, who sponsored the resolution, and Councilmen Eugene Cook, Mark Cuthbertson and Ed Smyth supported the zone change, while Councilwoman Joan Cergol voted against it.
“What I see is a building that simply does not comport with the scale of the surrounding historic district, not at 10,000 square-feet or 8,000 square-feet,” Cergol said during last Thursday’s meeting.
Cergol added that she suggested that Mavellia construct two smaller professional buildings on the site.
Paul Warburgh, a neighbor whose home is also in the Old Huntington Green Historic District, who had previously opposed Mavellia’s plan because of the size and architecture of the proposed building, also suggested that there be two smaller buildings of “no more than 6,000 square-feet” on the property instead of one 10,064-square-foot building. Warburg was one of several neighbors and historic preservationists to oppose the project at a public hearing last month.
Mavellia said he worked with three different architects to make sure that the proposed building “fits the style of the other historic buildings in the area.”
“I believed in it three years ago, and I believe in it now,” Mavellia said. “I commend this town board for doing the right thing.”
Lupinacci said the zone change approval is just the first step in the approval process for any construction of the corner.
“Right now this corner is an ugly abandoned gas station, and this is the first step in beautifying that area,” Lupinacci said.
Smyth added that the town board would have another opportunity to vote on Mavellia’s plan before construction can take place.
“This property is in the historic district, so this has to come back before the town board for a second approval just to issue the building permit,” Smyth said. “Whatever is being proposed next time this thing comes around before the building permit is issued… many of the concerns that Mr. Warburgh and others had can be addressed at that time.”
Mavellia said his current plans do not require any variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals, and that the next step is to go before the Huntington Planning Board for site plan review.