Huntington – The Town of
Huntington Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) has received a commitment from
Huntington High School to allow the ZBA to utilize their auditorium for a
public hearing on the Downtown Huntington application, if needed; for April 11,
Various Town Departments,
including Public Safety, the Office of the Fire Marshal and Information
Technology will be looking at the site to ensure the required security, safety
and transparency measures can be implemented to facilitate the meeting.
The ZBA is awaiting
confirmation of the April 11 date from the Downtown Huntington applicant; upon
confirmation from the applicant and sign-off from the various Town Departments,
a meeting will be scheduled for the public hearing on variances requested by
the Downtown Huntington applicant.
The Zoning Board of
Appeals (ZBA) adjourned the Thursday, January 24 public hearing on the Downtown
Huntington application until a meeting could be rescheduled at a venue large
enough to accommodate all individuals wishing to attend and participate.
The Town Board Room was
filled to capacity at the January 24 ZBA meeting, with approximately 310
occupants inside the room and approximately 350-400 additional individuals
filling the Town Hall atrium/lobby area and first floor hallway outside the
Board Room, according to the Fire Marshal’s office.
Audio speakers installed
in the walls outside the Town Board Room played the live audio from the
meeting, while the meeting also played live on the Town’s website and
government access TV channels Optimum 18 and FIOS 38, but the speaker audio was
drowned out by the conversation from the gathered crowd.
Upon learning of the audio
quality issues in the hallway outside the Town Board Room and the large number
of individuals gathered there, the ZBA voted to adjourn the meeting until a
more suitable venue can be secured for full participation in the public hearing
on the Downtown Huntington application.
“We embrace the
participation of the public because this is their forum,” said ZBA Chairman
John Posillico, as he suggested the hearing be adjourned until the ZBA would be
able to “put this into a venue where you will all have your voice.”
“There is a point at which
a public hearing becomes less than public,” said ZBA member Christopher
Modelewski, citing the concerns Chairman Posillico and John Bennett, Special
Counsel to the ZBA, shared that those in attendance outside the Town Board Room
would not be able to participate “in any meaningful way” due to the occupancy
limitations of the Board Room.
“We want everybody to be
heard. This is a big project. This is an important decision, an important
application...it needs to be done the right way,” said ZBA Vice Chairman Peter
ZBA member Richard McGrath
noted that the Planning Board only issued their recommendation to the ZBA on
the Downtown Huntington application less than 24 hours prior to the ZBA meeting
and stated: “There are a lot of people here that have no idea what the Planning
Board recommended,” then asking if Mr. Bennett would read the Planning Board’s
recommendation to put it “in context” for those in attendance.
Upon Chairman Posillico’s
instruction, Mr. Bennett then read the Planning Board's recommendation, which
consisted of five bullet points, including the Planning Board’s decision that
the application would result in an “undesirable change in the character of the
village,” that the proposed project would be “counter to the objective of
maintaining the village's retail/commercial district,” that it “will have a
detrimental impact on the village,” and the Planning Board indicates that they
“strongly recommend that the ZBA denies the requested variances.”
reiterated to the audience: “If we don't do this properly, it's what the court
system would refer to as a do-over and none of it will count,” before motioning
to adjourn the hearing until the ZBA finds a more suitable venue to ensure full
public participation in the hearing process for the Downtown Huntington
Typically, the applicant
presents their comments at the opening of a hearing and the public follows with
their comments. Only part of the applicant’s presentation was heard prior to
the meeting adjournment. The ZBA assured those in attendance that the cards
that were filled out by those wishing to speak would be held for the
rescheduled meeting in the same order they would have been heard at the
adjourned January 24 hearing.
Plans and the Expanded Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) for the Downtown Huntington
project are currently available online and at Huntington Town Hall for
those wishing to visit the Department of Planning and Environment, Room 212 at
100 Main Street, Huntington.
Link to PDF of Site
Plans and the Expanded Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) for the Downtown
Huntington project: http://www.huntingtonny.gov/filestorage/13749/13847/16804/99893/16878/20861/ZBA_21756_Downtown_Huntington_Renderings_and_Expanded_EAF.pdf