By Andrew Wroblewski
The Huntington Town Board has agreed to sell a 7,000-square-foot paved parcel of land to a developer who wants to build a three-story commercial building with residential apartments in Huntington village. The sale is subject to permissive referendum.
The land is adjacent to 30 Stewart Ave., and is part of a larger Town of Huntington-owned parcel of land that also includes the public parking lot on Main Street next to the Huntington Elks Lodge.
However, due to an elevation change between the two lots, the smaller parcel is “landlocked” from the larger parcel, prompting the $208,750 sale, according to town officials and Jim Margolin, the Huntington-based attorney representing Jeff Carbone, owner of 30 Stewart Ave.
The sale was unanimously approved by the town board during its July 12 meeting, but is subject to permissive referendum. That means a public vote would be triggered if, within 30 days of approved sale, the town receives a petition against the sale with signatures equaling at least five percent of the total votes cast in town during the last gubernatorial election, according to town code. There were 51,857 votes cast for governor in the 2014 general election, according to data provided by the Suffolk County Board of Elections, so a petition with 2,593 signatures would need to be filed with Huntington Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia by Aug. 11.
With the planned sale, Carbone hopes to add the purchased lot to his property at 30 Stewart Ave. There, at the northeastern corner of Stewart Avenue and Gerard Street, he plans to build a mixed-use structure that would have a first-floor footprint of 4,863 square feet, with office and retail space on the ground level, and 12 apartments spread across its second and third floors. Carbone plans to demolish two existing structures on the property in order to make way for the proposed building.
If the sale of the parcel goes through, Carbone’s plan would gain an additional 18 parking spaces, upping the total to 41 on-site spaces. Carbone would be short of the 53 spaces required by town code, but last week the Huntington Zoning Board of Appeals granted conditional approval for Carbone to utilize a municipal parking lot to make up for the missing spaces, as long as the sale goes through.
The resolution approving the sale was co-sponsored by Councilman Mark Cuthbertson and Councilwoman Tracey Edwards, and seconded by Councilman Eugene Cook.
“It’s a landlocked piece of land,” Cuthbertson said in an interview Tuesday. “If we thought it would make sense to develop it, we would. It meets a parking need for a project to move forward and it also gets the town some money.”
If the sale closes, funds would be transferred to the town’s general fund account, according to the approved resolution. At Wednesday’s meeting of the Huntington Village Parking Consortium, town officials committed to using funds from the sale for “parking improvements in Huntington village,” said town spokesman A.J. Carter.
Neither Cook nor Edwards returned a call for comment before deadline Wednesday.
The land was previously used by Carbone as a private lot without the knowledge of town officials, according to Carter. When Carbone’s plan to develop the land was filed with the town, officials informed him that he was incorporating public land, according to Carter.
In a statement emailed Tuesday, Carter added that, due to the change in elevation from the two parking lots, it is “neither practical nor financially feasible to extend the municipal parking lot” to the lot near the Elks Lodge.
Carter added, “That would entail building a ramp that, among other factors, would reduce the number of spaces that could be gained and require reconstructing the retaining wall.”
When later asked if a town engineer formally evaluated the land to determine if the Elks Lodge public parking lot could be extended to the land the town has agreed to sell, Carter declined to comment.
He added, however, “Public safety notes that even on the busiest evenings, the Elks Club lot is only three-quarters full, so it does not make sense to expand a lot that is already not fully utilized.”
Editor's note: The sale is subject to permissive referendum.
An earlier version of the story stated otherwise.