Concerned citizens and Port North residents attended a special meeting on June 26 to hear revised plans from Sandy Hollow Associates of Great Neck for a senior housing development on the vacant 41 acres, a former sand mine owned by Dallas Realty. Currently zoned industrial, the property would require rezoning by the village during a public hearing before Sandy Hollow could begin building.
Attorney Benjamin Weinstock of Ruskin, Moscou, Evans and Faltischek introduced the panel. Architect Louis Giacalone presented the plans for the proposed development called Mill Pond, a housing facility for those 55 and over and for their children 19 and over. This development would consist of 327 units -- two-story 1,200-square-foot townhouses and 1,350-square-foot courtyard homes -- priced between $175,000 and $295,000. Taxes are estimated at $5,000 per unit. There would be a gatehouse on Pleasant Avenue and Harbor Road; a community building with a computer facility, pool, exercise area, and wellness center; and an outdoor plaza. The facility would be pedestrian friendly and would provide jitney bus service to the railroad during rush hour and to the market and doctor appointments during off-peak hours.
Real estate developer John Breslin from Huntington called the proposed upzoning desirable, saying it would bring in 1.7 million dollars of tax revenue for the school district. Traffic expert Ronald Hill estimated that the development would generate 883 trips per day, adding that the jitney service could reduce two-car families to one-car.
Environmental scientist Andrew Kolikoff saw no sign of negative environmental impact and proposed planting various types of trees to strengthen the ecosystem. Engineer Blaz Kovacic said the former sand mine would support the development and that water usage in this instance would be less than that needed for a single housing development.
Principal Michael Puntillo, a Schreiber graduate, said that he was deeply concerned about doing the right thing for the community and that if the village did upzone, his company would develop the property in a thoughtful manner.
Trustee Bert Goodstadt suggested that the development have additional access points. Trustee Ross Altman suggested that Sandy Hollow consider fewer units at higher prices. Mr. Puntillo said the company would consider that but was committed to providing that price and meet demand. Mr. Altman then stated that a change of zoning should be a benefit to the community at large and that perhaps the development should grant access to Port North residents. Mr. Weinstock said that would be antithetic to a gated community but added that the developer is interested in hearing what the board would want.
Planning Board member Stanley Ronell said he favored the proposal. Tom Imperatore said that the planning board would have professionals look at every aspect of the proposal.
Resident Hank Ratner did not think that people 55 and 60 would use the jitney and suggested waiting till the Morewood senior housing opened to see the impact on the town. He thought property values would plummet. Another resident disagreed, saying people would sell their houses anyway.
Some residents disagreed with the traffic study, saying that the plan did not account for the actual and proposed building on neighboring properties. Others thought that seniors would sell their houses to families who would burden the school district and added that the hospitals would be overcrowded.
Some applauded the developers in meeting the mid-priced housing needs of seniors and in cleaning up the property, which a few referred to as "a dump." Some in attendance accused those against the development of ageism. Two radio talk show hosts from the Seniors on the Move show on WLUX said the development would help solve the lack of senior housing.
Wayne Wink expressed concern that the developers are creating the new proposed zonings. Steve Kaplan urged the village to create a master plan to examine the proposed impact of the Lewis Oil property and the 41 acres.
The mayor and trustees will discuss an environmental review and the applications for the 41 acres and the Lewis Oil property at the next board meeting on July 17.