By Jano Tantongco
Residents opposing a 110-unit housing community proposed to be built on a Fort Salonga golf course spoke out during the public portion of last week’s Huntington Town Board Meeting.
The proposal for The Preserve at Indian Hills calls for changing the zone from R-40 residential to an open space cluster district, a zoning district previously used to allow a proposal for condominiums and the golf course to co-exist at the Cold Spring Country Club in 2012.
Plans would build across the Indian Hills Country Club, which is located off of Breeze Hill Road, an age-restricted community of 4,400-square-foot townhouses for those over the age of 55.
Janice Conte, of Fort Salonga, a member of civic group Fort Salonga Association, who attended the Dec. 7 board meeting, said Tuesday that she opposes the plan due to potential negative impacts to the environment, and infrastructure overload. She’s also a member of the Fort Salonga Property Owners Association, a new civic group formed to oppose the project.
“What’s unique about Indian Hills is it's bordered by the Long Island Sound, designated wetlands, the Makamah Nature preserve and Fresh Pond,” Conte said, alluding to potential environmental impacts the project could bring.
However, Jim Tsunis, managing member of Hauppauge-based Northwind Group, said in an statement emailed Wednesday that the proposal would be less “impactive” than the existing homes in the area.
“Our consultants, which include respected environmentalists, civil engineers and soil analysts, will be working in close cooperation with Town Planners, County reviewers, and to the extent required, New York State DEC representatives, to devise a plan that strictly meets all environmental codes and rules. No housing unit will be located any closer to the shore than permitted by law,” Tsunis added.
Conte raised the issue of population density, stating that the neighborhood around the country club lacks traffic lights and wide streets to accommodate a potential influx of new residents.
“Our neighborhood probably has about 100 houses in it to begin with, so you’re doubling the size of the neighborhood on the existing infrastructure,” Conte said.
Tsunis said that the plan would preserve 120 acres out of a total 143 acres of the property, while a standard subdivision would not.
“As an age restricted community, the trip generations by residents are scientifically proven to be less than that of a traditional single family residential community,” Tsunis added.
In a letter sent to the town, FSA President Frank Capaccio said the golf course has been losing money over the past seven years. He called preservation of the course “unrealistic.”
“After careful consideration it is the considered opinion of the majority of our board of directors to support the rezoning application,” Capaccio stated in the letter. “This is supported by the majority of our 2,500 residents based on the emails we have received over the past several months.”
The president of the new civic group, Fort Salonga Property Owners Association, however, disagrees with Capaccio.
John Hayes, who has been a Fort Salonga resident for more than 26 years, is president of FSPOA and during the town board’s Dec. 7 meeting, he asked the board to disregard Capaccio’s letter.
“The statement that the majority of Fort Salonga residents support downzoning is baseless,” Hayes said. “Our community meetings are extremely well-attended by those who do oppose the plan.”