Amnesty Period Set For Parking Scofflaws

Drivers with unpaid, past due parking violations can pay up without penalty under an amnesty program approved by the town board.   Long Islander News photo/Connor Beach

Drivers with unpaid, past due parking violations can pay up without penalty under an amnesty program approved by the town board.
Long Islander News photo/Connor Beach

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

Drivers with outstanding parking fees will get a break if they pay their fines in the new year.

The Town of Huntington unanimously approved earlier this month an amnesty program for outstanding parking violations issued between Jan. 1, 2013 and June 30, 2018.

The resolution was co-sponsored by Councilmen Mark Cuthbertson and Ed Smyth.

The amnesty program will provide drivers with a 40 percent reduction in the cost of all parking ticket fines and additional surcharges if the ticket is paid before April 1, 2019, according to town documents.

Huntington last held a parking amnesty program in 2013, when violators were similarly offered 40 percent off their outstanding parking tickets.

According to town documents, there is in excess $1.5 million in fines and surcharges still unpaid from parking fines and surcharges issued by the town’s Traffic Violations Bureau since Jan. 1, 2013.

The Maryland-based Brekford Corporation has administered the town’s parking ticket management system since 2013, and the company submitted a plan to implement the amnesty program to the town at the end of October.

The town will mail letters to people who qualify for the parking ticket amnesty program, and payment can be made either online or by mail, according to town documents.

The Huntington town attorney is responsible for the administration of the Traffic Violations Bureau, and will oversee the amnesty program along with the director of public safety.

Hearing Set On Village Apartments Plan

A rendering depicts a Main Street portion of a mixed-use development with 84 luxury apartments proposed for Huntington village. Developers have promised to preserve and restore the facade of the 1911 Huntington Firehouse, depicted above, as part of their proposal.

A rendering depicts a Main Street portion of a mixed-use development with 84 luxury apartments proposed for Huntington village. Developers have promised to preserve and restore the facade of the 1911 Huntington Firehouse, depicted above, as part of their proposal.

By Connor Beach

cbeach@longislandergroup.com

The Huntington Zoning Board of Appeals will hear next month developers’ plans to construct a more than 271,000-square-foot, four-story mixed-use development with 84 luxury apartments in Huntington village.

Developers John Kean and Alan Fromkin are scheduled to present their plans for the demolition and re-construction of buildings fronting Main Street, Gerard Street and Stewart Avenue in Huntington village to the ZBA at a public hearing on Jan. 24, according to legal notices submitted by the town.

Fromkin is the owner of owner of Classic Galleries at 243 Main Street, which is located in one of the buildings involved in the plan.

The project was previously set for a ZBA public hearing last June, but the hearing was adjourned to allow the developers time to address concerns raised by the Huntington planning board.

Huntington-based attorney Jim Margolin, who is representing the developers, said in an interview Wednesday at the time there “seemed to be a disconnect” between his clients and the planning board. He said additional information has since been submitted to town planners, including updated traffic and drainage studies.

Margolin added that, although some details are different, the proposed development remains largely unchanged

After several meetings with historians, Margolin presenting an updated version of the development to the planning board in February. He also said Kean and Fromkin promised to restore and preserve the facade of the historic 1911 Huntington Firehouse at 235 Main Street.

Kean and Fromkin need the ZBA to approve a number of variances and a special use permit in order to move forward with the development.

The variances include approval to build a four-story building, which would exceed the code-allowed limit of three, and parking relief. The proposal is required by town code to provide 262 parking spaces and plans call for 127 onsite stalls.

Margolin said Wednesday the ZBA hearing would be a good opportunity to explain the details of the proposed development to Huntington residents.

The public hearing is slated for Thursday, Jan. 24 at 6 p.m. at town hall.

No More Mixing Your Recyclables

You’ll need two pails to sort recycling starting Jan. 2 when Huntington returns to separate collection days for paper and cardboard, and glass and plastic recyclables.

You’ll need two pails to sort recycling starting Jan. 2 when Huntington returns to separate collection days for paper and cardboard, and glass and plastic recyclables.

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

Huntington residents will again have to sort their recycling next year when the town switches back to dual-stream recycling.

Starting on Jan. 2, 2019 the town is switching from a single-stream to a dual-stream recycling system. Dual-stream recycling means the town refuse department and it’s contractors will collect bottles, cans and plastics one week and paper and corrugated cardboard the following week, according to town documents.

Supervisor Chad Lupinacci said alternating the material on recycling days requires less sorting and decreased the cost.

“Huntington is 100 percent committed to recycling and protecting our environment, which is why we are adopting dual-stream recycling as of January 2019,” Lupinacci said.

A Town-issued handout gives a guide to what can and can’t be put out for recycling.

A Town-issued handout gives a guide to what can and can’t be put out for recycling.

“Dual-stream recycling is the only cost-effective, environmentally responsible option available that will allow the Town to continue our recycling program.”

The change is a result of “a dramatic and downward shift in worldwide commodity markets for recyclables- specifically in China” environmental waste management director John Clark told the town board during a budget hearing in early November.

Clark said the switch from single to dual stream recycling lowers the town’s processing costs for recycling from an estimated $950,000 to about $250,000.

Huntington previously had an agreement with the Town of Brookhaven for the processing of single-stream recyclables. Huntington officials received a letter on Oct. 23 from Brookhaven stating they would not accept any of Huntington’s recycling after Oct. 29 due to “catastrophic changes in international markets for recyclables.”

To help increase the quality of recycled materials, Lupinacci suggested residents keep paper dry by putting a lid on paper recycling containers, rinse out bottles, cans and jars and avoid glass because it is difficult and costly to recycle.

More information on dual-stream recycling and a full schedule of pick-up dates can be found on the town website at Huntingtonny.gov.

Housing Summit Sparks Legislative Proposals

In addition to advocating for more affordable developments like Avalon Bay, above, Huntington Housing Coalition will make recommendations to the town board based on issues raised at its housing summit held in November.

In addition to advocating for more affordable developments like Avalon Bay, above, Huntington Housing Coalition will make recommendations to the town board based on issues raised at its housing summit held in November.

Housing Summit Sparks Ideas For Change

 

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

An engaging summit on affordable housing hosted Huntington Township Housing Coalition gave residents an opportunity to give input on legislative actions and proposals. One proposal on accessory apartments is being submitted to the town this month.

A Community Conversation On Housing For All was held on Nov. 17 and covered a wide variety topics, from accessory apartments to housing choice impacts. The coalition was delighted to have the largest turnout for its annual summit yet with around 170 people registered.

Attendees were eager to share their opinions and present questions to panels that discussed elements of economical housing. A large number of questions were submitted and many could not be addressed in the allotted time; they have been answered on the coalition’s website.

The coalition found many people inquired about the accessory apartment process, a discussion they recorded and have also added to their website.

“We’ve heard from a lot of people, both older people who want to stay in their house but don’t have a fixed income and want to cover their bills, as well as younger people who want to buy a house but would be cash strapped to pay a mortgage but if they lived in an accessory apartment that would help them to pay their bills,” President of Huntington Township Housing Coalition, Roger Weaving Jr. said. “There seems to be a lot of interest in it.”

The coalition plans to bring their proposed accessory apartment legislation to the Huntington Town Board in January. A proposal has been in the works for some time, according to Weaving, but the coalition brought it to summit attendees to gain their insights.

“I don’t think we actually made any changes, people were reasonably confident with what we are proposing,” Weaving said. “People always want you to do a little more, but I think what we have in the bill, is fairly simple, straightforward changes that seem to make a lot of sense to most people.”

They have been working with town board members and hope to have a bipartisan representation among board members proposing the legislation. The goal is to get the legislation changes passed, before trying to “push the envelope” with additional proposals.

“People have all kinds of ideas of what would be great, but if you can’t get it passed then it doesn’t matter,” Weaving said.

The bill addresses issues within the current legislation that prevent many homeowners from getting legal accessory apartment permits. For instance, many elderly and single people are prevented from living in an accessory apartment while renting out their home.

Another proposed change would roll back the frontage requirement from 75 to 50 feet, which would make many more properties eligible, especially in pthe parts of town with the greatest number of illegal apartments.

“A lot of the time, the older parts of town is where the illegal apartments are,” Weaving said. “Changing the law didn’t change the fact of apartments, it changed the fact that there are illegal apartments.”

The Huntington Township Housing Coalition hopes that if their legislation is passed it will be reduce the amount of illegal apartments. These apartments are the ones that put residents most at risk, since they’re not inspected.

Rooftop Dining On The Horizon

A rendering depicts the rooftop dining area at the proposed Brewology restaurant on Main Street in Huntington village.

A rendering depicts the rooftop dining area at the proposed Brewology restaurant on Main Street in Huntington village.

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

In late 2017, the Huntington Zoning Board of Appeals gave the go-ahead to restaurateurs looking to open Huntington village’s first restaurant with a bird’s-eye view.

The town planning board has since granted final site plan approval for restaurateurs Roger Bencosme and Kazi Hassan to move forward with the planned Huntington location of their local gastropub chain, Brewology, according to Woodbury-based attorney Thomas Abbate.

Abbate, who is representing Bencosme and Hassan, said they are ready to obtain building permits for the site of the proposed restaurant at 325 Main Street in Huntington village.

Plans submitted to the town showed Brewology would stretch 4,500 square feet across the first floor, and also feature an additional 925 square feet of dining space on its rooftop.

There are 40 seats planned for the rooftop dining space, which will be open seasonally for five months when the weather’s warm.

The ZBA’s approval of the rooftop dining space was contingent on several conditions, including that the owners not have sidewalk seating; there is no amplified music on the rooftop; a firewall is constructed on the roof; and the rooftop space closes at 11 p.m. on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends.

Rooftop patrons will also have to be seated in order to order alcoholic beverages -- the ZBA required that there only be a service bar on the rooftop. Plans also show the rooftop dining area would be set back away from the edges of the roof.

Startling Sight Amid The Holiday Displays

DrunkDriving_1.JPG

Councilman Mark Cuthbertson holds up a symbol of MADD’s “Tie one on for safety” campaign flanked by, from left, Suffolk County Police Inspector William Scrima, Lynne Pallmeyer, Kevin Gershowitz, Supervisor Chad Lupinacci and Councilman Ed Smyth. A mangled car on display at the corner of Route 25A and Park Ave. reminds passersby of the consequences of driving under the influence. Photo/Town of Huntington

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

Town of Huntington officials teamed up with activists and police earlier this week to promote a campaign against drunk and distracted driving this holiday season.

The town is partnering with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to support the “tie one on for safety” campaign in an effort to reduce the number of impaired drivers on Huntington’s roads. Councilman Mark Cuthbertson announced the initiative at a press conference Monday on the Huntington village green at the corner of Route 25A and Park Avenue.

“The most dangerous days of the year on the road are from Thanksgiving to New Years Day,” Cuthbertson said. “Whether it’s drunk or drugged driving, when there is a crash it changes people’s lives and families are torn apart.”

The announcement was made in front of a car that had been wrecked in an accident. The mangled car, donated by Gershow Recycling, served as a stark reminder of the consequences of driving under the influence.

“You can not survive that,” Gershow Recycling’s president Kevin Gershowitz said, pointing at the totaled car.

Also present at the press conference were the family of Huntington Station resident Karen Holden, who was killed in 2016 when a drunk driver with a blood alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit crashed into her car.

“Gone are the days of happy celebrations, as one chair will always be empty,” Holden’s sister Lynne Pallmeyer, of East Northport, said. “We implore that everyone just think before they have that last drink and get behind the wheel.”

Councilman Ed Smyth added a stern reminder to bar owners and other establishments that serve alcohol.

“If you have a commercial establishment serving alcohol, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are not serving a visibly intoxicated patron,” Smyth said.

Suffolk County Police Inspector William Scrima from the second precinct said police are stepping up DWI enforcement over the holiday season, and advised partygoers to call for a ride or use a designated driver.

Fashion Finds Fund An Education Charity

Amanda Munz sells discount designer samples online and from a showroom on Route 110 in Farmingdale to raise funds for an educational foundation.

Amanda Munz sells discount designer samples online and from a showroom on Route 110 in Farmingdale to raise funds for an educational foundation.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

The Fashion Foundation is a non-profit organization providing children in need with materials to succeed, and making designer samples available for a discounted price.

Founder Amanda Munz is a grad of the Western Suffolk BOCES fashion program and the Fashion Institute of Technology, where the Lindenhurst native witnessed the wasteful side of fashion.

“I was constantly seeing this trend of designers having samples piling up in their showrooms and warehouses, but no one knew what to do with them,” Munz said. “A lot of them were ending up in the garbage.”

Samples are created by designers working to perfect a piece before thousands of copies are made for stores. Often, many variations of a design or an entire design don’t make the cut. Munz felt these extra copies needed to be put to better use so she founded The Fashion Foundation four years ago.

Fashion Institute of Technology grad Amanda Munz rescues samples and overstock from top fashion houses to benefit students throughout the metro New York area.

Fashion Institute of Technology grad Amanda Munz rescues samples and overstock from top fashion houses to benefit students throughout the metro New York area.

 “From the moment I brainstormed this idea, I never thought, ‘I want to do this for fun as a hobby,’” Munz said. “This was going to be my passion, and I wanted to make this a huge organization.”

The Fashion Foundation receives hundreds of donated samples from designers, which are resold online and in the showroom.

“We have pieces from companies who just made this one sample and it’s the only sample they ever made,” Munz said. “Our customer gets that one of a kind piece.”

Every clothing purchase makes an impact on schools that lack funds for basic supplies.

“Our money goes a really long way, because we’re getting them simple things, a $20 donation can fund an entire backpack full of school supplies for a kid,” Munz said.

The Fashion Foundation coordinates with teachers to find out what their students lack, delivering the supplies directly to teachers in Brooklyn, Queens, Harlem, the Bronx, Manhattan and Long Island.

“When I go into a school and I hand a kid a backpack or school supplies and I see them smile, that keeps me moving forward,” Munz said.

Following the holiday season, the non-profit will have supported over 6,500 students. At their Holiday Party, guests filled 500 backpacks with supplies, holiday gifts, and a personal note.

“People are doing their holiday purchases with us, they’re shopping across the world,” Munz said. “Our holiday season is shaping up to be one of our biggest ones yet.”

The Fashion Foundation’s showroom in Farmingdale has racks and shelves full of clothing items that are all brand new and cannot be found on their website.

“Once they come to our showroom, most people come back,” Munz said. “It’s kind of a hidden treasure on Long Island that not many people know about.”

A constant flow of samples arrive every season from designers, giving the charity constant new additions.

“I’ve heard from my customers, that they actually respect these brands more because they are supporting our mission with their samples,” Munz said. “It’s a win for designers because when they donate they get a tax-write off and clean out their warehouses. It’s a win for customers because it’s super affordable. And it’s a win because everything is going back to local kids.”

Note: This article has been edited from its original version. Munz attended Western Suffolk BOCES.

Planting First Seeds For A Solar Farm

Multinational cosmetics giant Estee Lauder plans to construct a four-acre solar farm behind the company’s corporate building at Pinelawn and Corporate Center drives in Melville.  Long Islander News photo/Connor Beach

Multinational cosmetics giant Estee Lauder plans to construct a four-acre solar farm behind the company’s corporate building at Pinelawn and Corporate Center drives in Melville. Long Islander News photo/Connor Beach

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

The Huntington planning board members approved last week a company’s plans to construct a solar farm in Melville.

Manhattan-based multinational cosmetics giant Estee Lauder plans to construct an array of solar panels in the six-acre vacant lot behind the company’s corporate building on the corner of Pinelawn Drive and Corporate Center Drive in Melville.

“This is the first solar farm, or mini-solar farm, that has come before the planning board,” Anthony Aloisio, director of the Huntington planning department, said at the Dec. 5 meeting.

Aloisio said the proposed site of the solar farm on 7 Corporate Center Drive is surrounded by other commercial uses or parking lots. Estee Lauder plans to cover about four acres of the property with solar panels.

“It is fairly well buffered from what would be our normal concern, which is residential uses,” Aloisio said, adding that plans call for a significant landscape buffer around the solar farm.

Huntington-based engineer Christopher Robinson, who designed the plans for the solar farm, said at last week’s meeting the solar panels would face south towards Corporate Center Drive.

Planning board members praised Estee Lauder’s move to increase the use of renewable energy, but expressed some concerns about the possibility of glare from the solar panels distracting drivers on Corporate Center Drive.

Robinson said the panels would be constructed at an angle, “so any reflection that may occur would be in an upward direction.”

“There will be nothing that would reflect down to any vehicular area or anybody on the ground level,” he said.

The Estee Lauder building next to the site of the proposed solar farm already has solar panels on the roof, and Robinson said the additional panels would help the company “reduce their dependence on the grid.”

School Board Votes Against Arming Guards

The Northport-East Northport school board voted against hiring armed security guards at district schools, including Northport High School pictured above.  Photo/Google Maps

The Northport-East Northport school board voted against hiring armed security guards at district schools, including Northport High School pictured above. Photo/Google Maps

By Connor Beach

cbeach@longislandergroup.com

 

The Northport-East Northport school board voted last month against placing armed security guards in district schools.

In a letter to the community dated Nov. 29, Superintendent Robert Banzer said the board voted against a measure for armed security on school grounds during the Nov. 28 meeting.

“This decision was not a rush judgment,” Banzer said in the letter. “It was made after months of careful, thoughtful deliberation, research and discussion with professionals from a variety of fields.”

Banzer said the board held two workshops on the issue of armed guards before last Wednesday’s vote during which they interviewed law enforcement officials, a representative from the district’s law firm and representatives from the district’s insurance carrier.

Arming school security guards has gained some traction on Long Island since the Feb. 14 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Massapequa, Hauppauge and Miller Place are among several Long Island schools district to hire armed guards to patrol school grounds.

Banzer said while the district will not be hiring armed security, the district will “continue to refine our security infrastructure and protocols.”

“Over the past 10 months, enhancements have included the addition of security vestibules in six of our 10 buildings to safely greet and screen visitors,” Banzer said. “We have increased security personnel around the entire district, with a presence at each building.”

Northport-East Northport has also joined nearly every public school district in Suffolk County in implementing the RAVE Panic Button mobile app. The app allows district staff to call 911 and simultaneously alert authorities of an emergency within school buildings at the push of a button.

In the letter Banzer also thanked members of the community for their input.

“I appreciate the passion with which many community members spoke,” Banzer said. “While there were differing viewpoints, I know we are all united in our goal of keeping our students and staff as safe as possible.”

Cook Gains Support In Power Play

Councilman Eugene Cook, pictured in front of the Northport Power Plant in May, drummed up support from his town board colleagues to research the town’s ability to acquire the plant through eminent domain.

Councilman Eugene Cook, pictured in front of the Northport Power Plant in May, drummed up support from his town board colleagues to research the town’s ability to acquire the plant through eminent domain.

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

The Huntington town board approved Tuesday a resolution to consider the possibility of taking over the Northport Power Plant through eminent domain.

The resolution, sponsored by Councilman Eugene Cook and seconded by Councilman Ed Smyth, instructs the town attorney and various department heads to research the procedure for eminent domain and the legality and feasibility of the town taking over the plant.

Cook previously introduced the idea of eminent domain to the town board in May, but the idea did not have enough support at the time.

“I’ve done a lot of research on this and I believe it’s the right thing to do,” Cook said.

Cook said that LIPA’s appraisal of the 243.6-acre power plant undervalues its economic output.

“After the appraisal was submitted with the lawsuit to the judge, I realized that the price they had in there was so good that we should buy this plant,” Cook said.

The Northport Power Plant is owned by National Grid and under contract to the Long Island Power Authority.

Under that contract, LIPA pays all costs to run the plant, including property taxes and provides fuel. In exchange, the utility receives all the electricity and electric market revenues.

Smyth said LIPA recently appraised the property at $193.7 million, a valuation he called an “invitation for the town to explore the condemnation of the plant because the price is so ridiculously low.”

LIPA currently pays $80 million annually in property taxes on the property based on the town’s $3.8-billion valuation.

LIPA challenged the assessment in 2010, seeking to drastically reduce the appraised value of the property and the taxes it pays on the property.

“This is the biggest financial issue the town is facing and probably has faced in its history,” Smyth said. “I don’t want to leave any stone unturned in this lawsuit.”

The town board voted 4-1 to move forward with eminent domain research. Cook and Smyth were joined by Councilwoman Joan Cergol and Supervisor Chad Lupinacci in support of the resolution, while Councilman Mark Cuthbertson was the lone no vote.

Cuthbertson said Cook does not need a resolution to ask town officials to research eminent domain, and the resolution was creating “false hope.” He argued the town should continue to work with local state representatives and the governor to find a solution.

“I believe this resolution brings grandstanding to an Olympic level, and it makes this board look foolish,” Cuthbertson said.

Northport Village deputy mayor Tom Kehoe said he supported the resolution, calling it, “another piece of the puzzle that will put a little pressure on the utility and LIPA to come to a decision that’s good for all of us.”

Huntington, the Northport school district, LIPA and National Grid are currently involved in non-binding mediation with third-party arbitrator Marty F. Scheinman. Cook said the timing of his resolution was not indicative of the progress of those talks.