By Jano Tantongco
A long-discussed proposal to strip the covenants and restrictions from a Melville property to pave the way for a proposed Home Goods was narrowly approved by the Huntington Town Board on Tuesday.
The resolution passed with a 3-2 vote. Councilman Mark Cuthbertson and Councilwoman Tracey Edwards voting against the resolution.
Edwards said in an interview Wednesday that she’s concerned about the potential increase in traffic the proposed Home Goods could cause.
“The community is really concerned about” that, she added.
Councilman Cuthbertson corroborated Edwards’ concern about the previously agreed upon covenants.
“I felt that by removing these covenants it would set a bad precedent for expanding commercial uses into residential neighborhoods,” Cuthbertson stated in an email Wednesday.
The 881 Walt Whitman Road site, located behind Bertucci’s Restaurant, was split zoned as C-8 General Business A District and C-1 Office-Residence District. Following the vote, it is now exclusively zoned C-8.
Before being rescinded, covenants for the property included a stipulation that called for 0.8 acres of the property to dedicate as parkland for the adjacent West Hills County Park when the land was developed. The covenants also called for a privacy fence to be created; and hours of operation to be limited.
At a public hearing in January, Huntington-based attorney Michael McCarthy, who represented applicant 881 LLC, said a buffer would be maintained between the proposed Home Goods and West Hills County Park. He also said hours of delivery, along with trash and recycling pickup, would be limited to 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone, who, with Councilwoman Susan Berland, sponsored the resolution to strip the covenants and restrictions from the property, claimed the facility will be adequately set back.
As part of the plan the town will appraise the value of the 0.8 acres that was to be dedicated under the covenants and will instead donate that money to the town’s parks fund. Petrone said that donation will be around $700,000.
Edwards said she thinks the donation is “wonderful,” but it “doesn’t change the fact that it’s bringing increased traffic to an area that is experiencing robust development at this time.”
Longtime Melville resident and president of the Sweet Hollow Civic Association Alissa Taff continues to have reservations with the planned Home Goods.
“What we’re very upset about is that it’s in an extremely congested area,” Taff said after Tuesday’s meeting. “They’re allowing for two uses on one lot. In order to accomplish that with parking, they had to get rid of the covenants and restrictions on the buffer.”
Taff added that recent additions to the area, including the newly-opened Shake Shack just over 300 feet away at 849 Walt Whitman Road, are compounding the congestion.
Taff added, “It’s all in the same area. The traffic there is horrendous.”