The Engel Burman Group, which is under contract to purchase the 37-acre property on Elwood Road, is proposing to turn the site into a two story, 482-unit condominium community for 55+ owners. The land, which is currently zoned R-40 residential but has a variance for commercial use, would require a zone change to R-RM.
Partners Steven Krieger and Jan Burman, as well as attorney Michael McCarthy were on hand Wednesday night to answer questions at a meeting hosted by the Elwood Taxpayers Association. They also developed the active adult communities The Seasons at Plainview and The Seasons at East Meadow, as well as the assisted living community The Bristal in East Northport.
Each 1300 square foot unit would consist of two bedrooms and two baths. Amenities would include a clubhouse and recreational facilities, a gym, an indoor and two outdoor pools, tennis courts and a jogging track. Parking would be open air, and there would be a guard at the security gate 24 hours a day.
McCarthy said estimated sale prices for the units would range from $435,000 to $500,000, with estimated taxes of $5000. However, due to affordable housing regulations, approximately 80 units would be priced at $322,000. Estimated maintenance charges would be approximately $300 per month.
The Elwood School District could potentially see an influx of $1.7 million in taxes. The Dairy currently currently pays $110,000.
Traffic consultant Robert Eschbacher, an Elwood resident who also was a consultant in the development of The Greens in Melville said the group conducted studies of traffic flow on Elwood Road and determined that the busiest times are from 7:15-8:15 am and 5:00-6:00 pm. However, he said studies have shown that the 55+community is most active from 9:00-10:00 am and 4:00-5:00 pm.
Access to and from the site would be via one signal located between Shelby and Hammond Roads. A traffic circle would be installed in front of the property along with sensors to allow cars to leave safely without darting into traffic.
Eschbacher said a number of improvements to Elwood Road would be made at the developers’ expense, including: widening and improvement of the sidewalks in front of John Glenn High School; installation of flashing beacons during school hours to slow drivers down to the 30 mph school zone speed; and the addition of left and right turning lanes into the property which would require a slight widening of the road.
In addition, a major renovation would upgrade all the traffic "controllers" on the road. Currently traffic lights operate independently but Eschbacher said the new system would allow them to "talk" to each other to recognize and respond to the traffic flow, thereby minimizing stop times.
Eschbacher estimated the cost for all the improvements at approximately $1 million.
In response to residents’ concerns about waste water treatment, McCarthy said the current system is an antiquated, open air facility which would be replaced with a subterranean facility. In the past, neighbors have complained about noxious fumes coming from the property.
One resident asked about the density of the property. Zoning allows for 14.5 units per acre but Krieger said the number would be 13. He compared it favorably to The Seasons at East Meadow, which has 416 units on only 19 acres.
Residents’ concerns centered mostly on traffic flow. Several took exception to Eschbacker’s survey numbers, with one woman saying she completely disagreed with it, and another man saying he thought it was a little “far-fetched” to think that the speed of drivers could be controlled. Yet another raised concerns about current icing problems along the curve in the road by the property. Both Eschbacher and Krieger stressed that planning was still in the conceptual stage but that all issues would be looked at, including traffic accident patterns.
One resident asked what would happen if the plans didn’t go through. Krieger said it was his understanding that if the owners of the Dairy couldn’t sell the property, they would ramp up current operations. He did not disclose the sales price.
“We’re going to try our best to make everybody feel good about this,” Krieger told the crowd. He said copies of the application as well as the traffic analysis would be made available to the public.
After the meeting, both Krieger and Huntington Councilwoman Susan Berland seemed pleased with the evening’s discussion and the turnout. “I think it’s a great start,” Berland said.