By Jano Tantongco
Both support for, and resistance toward, a three-story mixed-use building and a separate parking structure proposed for Gateway Plaza in Huntington Station emerged during a Huntington Zoning Board of Appeals public hearing last week.
Both the mixed use structure -- which would have retail space, and 33 studio and 33 one-bedroom apartments -- and the 129-space parking structure are part of Huntington Station master developer Renaissance Downtowns’ overarching revitalization efforts
The applicant requires 10 variances from the ZBA -- including a parking variances to make up for a deficiency of 143 parking stalls -- paving the way for public input on the proposed structures during the March 31 hearing.
Robert Rockelein, board member of Huntington Matters and the Greater Huntington Civic Group, advocated for caution moving forward, but said, “Generally, a mixed-use building outside the scope of the zoning regulations, in an area begging for revitalization is considered a good thing. One would certainly help catalyze the HS revitalization.”
Steven Spucces, president of the Greater Huntington Civic Group, disagreed, calling the housing density of the proposed 16,500-square-foot mixed-use structure a “slap in the face to the community.”
“This is greed. You want to come into a single-family community and you’re going to offer 60 units per acre. You’re going to change the landscape forever,” he said.
Huntington Station resident Matt Harris said the proposed density seems high, but isn’t opposed to it.
“This is a tax-positive project because it’s studios and one-bedrooms only. There’s very little chance there’s going to be a lot of kids. We need studios and one-bedrooms,” Harris said.
Though density was a hot topic for several of the 11 speakers, the applicant does not need such relief based due to property being zoned in the C-6 Overlay District.
James McGoldrick, of Huntington Station, supported the project, but took aim at the applicant’s proposal to make up for the parking deficiency, in part, by utilizing the municipal parking located across New York Avenue, which was detailed by traffic engineer Osmond Barry.
McGoldrick said this could cause problems with commuters who utilize the lot, and residents of the proposed structure.
McGoldrick added, “The revitalization program is well-needed down there. I remember what it was like in the old days when everything was there, and now it’s been looking like garbage for 40 years.”
Dolores Thompson, a longtime Huntington Station community leader, said the old Huntington Station “was alive and well,” and is hopeful to see it return to its former glory.
“We had banks, we had doctors’ offices, we had all those things. It was taken away,” she said. “The gateway to Huntington is Huntington Station. Bring back something that we can be proud of. I am prayerful that you will really give this some consideration.”
Before the ZBA makes its decision, it has requested the applicant supply several documents for review, including a marketing study regarding the residential dwellings, and the credentials of the engineer.
After this, the board has 62 days to make a decision on the variances.