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Elwood Residents Organize Against Proposed Condos

Petition circulated at 'Seasons at Elwood' update meeting, residents voice concerns.

A group of Elwood residents are forming an organized opposition against proposed senior condominiums at the current site of the Oak Tree Dairy on Elwood Road.

The proposed 'Seasons at Elwood' development would place over 450 condos, with age-restricted ownership of  55+, on the 37-acre parcel. The land, which is currently zoned R-40 residential but has a variance for commercial use, would require a zone change to R-RM. The zone change application is currently under consideration with the Town Planning Board.

"The Oak Tree Dairy development is something that concerns me because it affects my home value," said one-year resident Jim Cameron at an Elwood Taxpayers Association meeting Thursday. "Traffic is obviously secondary, but I bought in this area for the school district and that's something I need to protect as best I can."

Cameron passed around a petition against the development Thursday night and said he will soon start a letter-writing campaign to town hall. He also filed a FOIL request to obtain the zone change requested by the developers. The Elwood Taxpayers Association did not take an official position on the development.

"The biggest thing here is networking," Cameron said, adding that he will seek procedural advice from Greater Huntington Civic Group, which has an active law suit against the Town Board regarding the Avalon Bay development in Huntington. GHCG President Steven Spucces was present and spoke at the meeting.

Related: 482 Condos Proposed at Oak Tree Dairy

Related: Developers to Present Senior Housing Plans for Oak Tree Dairy

Related: Elwood Residents Speak Out Against Oak Tree Development

Virtually everyone who attended the meeting Thursday night opposed the project and voiced concerns about traffic and school district impacts to town councilmembers Mark Mayoka, Mark Cuthbertson, and Gene Cook.

"We're going from zoning for 37 families to 450, or thereabout, with 600 more cars a day on Elwood Road," said 30-year resident Tom Van de Merlen, who pressed Cuthbertson for an independent traffic study of the proposed development. "If you come here at night, you can't even get off Deer Park Avenue onto Jericho Turnpike to make a left to go up here as it is."

A resident later asked the town board members if the nearby Matinecock Court development on Pulaski and Elwood roads, yet to be build but approved by the town, will be taken into account for an impact study. Cuthbertson replied that any local developments should be considered under the proposed development impact statement required by SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) for a project of this size.

"It [the condo project] is so out of character with the community, it's so overly dense," Van de Merlen continued. "I don't think anyone's opposed to some type of development there...we need to know as a community how we communicate our opposition to this in the most effective way."

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Residents also voiced concerns that the school district would suffer as a result of the project, both because of increased traffic and because the senior community would have no vested interest in passing the school budget.

"What you have to look at is a block of people who want to do one thing, and that is to keep their taxes as low as possible...," said the man. "What happens to the residents of the central community who have children in the schools? Our properties then become devalued because what you're going to have is a situation where there's going to be contention on every annual budget..."

Elwood Board of Education President Joe Fusaro was present at the meeting, though he did not take a stance on the project. The developers offered to pledge $1 million to the district, he said, and were willing to reserve some land connecting Elwood Park, the development, and the middle and high school campuses.

The Elwood BOE will hold a meeting on the proposed development on Oct. 18. The Town must hold a public hearing if the Planning Board moves the developer's zoning change application in front of the Town Board for consideration. Opposition organizer Jim Cameron is still collecting signatures. Those opposing the project may contact him at camj320@hotmail.com.

Are you in favor of the over-55 condos 'Seasons at Elwood' condos at current site of the Oak Tree Dairy? Tell us in the comment section below.

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Jim Cameron October 12, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Correction to my email address. camj32@hotmail.com Thank you.
Louise October 12, 2012 at 12:26 PM
My parents are facing a similar situation in Seaford whereby a developer is proposing to purchase a defunct and unused school building and turning it into a 113 unit condo for 55 and over. In an effort to further my own understanding of why people are opposed to progress both in Seaford and Elwood, I need to understanding something. The properties in question are currently generating little revenue for the local school districts. A 55 and over community will have little direct impact on the student population. Yet the developments will pay significantly more money to the districts. I'm not sure I understand why the impact on the districts is being used as a reason to object to these developments. If anything, the inflow of additional taxes to the districts will stabilize future school tax increases. Focusing on traffic, environmental concerns, etc. seems to be far more important. Also, if alternative solutions for the properties are not offered, objections to the current proposals will not be considered seriously. I know many people who are interested in staying in the community but want to scale down their residences. No one can stop the clock, and soon enough everyone who is objecting to these 55 and over communities will be the next ones clamoring for more of them.
mike a October 12, 2012 at 12:29 PM
would you rather have a 55+ development or "Matinecock Court development" pushed down your throat as the Federal government did to us near by home owners?
twocents October 12, 2012 at 08:18 PM
These may be seniors but what do you expect when the population keeps GROWING!! (I will leave it to you imagination how it is GROWING). You really think you can stop this island from turning into a mini version of new york city? brownstones and small high rises from one end to the other?? No one wants to do the OBVIOUS. I am sorry for the impact such density will have on the infrastructure. Here, Seaford, and everywhere else but no one thinks of that when they want to ... GROW!!! The old expression: you can't have your cake and eat it too' applies in this case as well. two cents ¢¢
Geraldine October 12, 2012 at 08:31 PM
My husband and I agree with Louise's comments. We have lived in Elwood for 50 years and our three children were educated in this district. We would like to downsize and also stay in Elwood. Our children and their families live near by and it is very convenient for us to visit them without having to move further east on L.I. W
Concerned Citizen October 13, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Don’t focus on the school issues… Voting down budgets is not a major concern; it may put a bit more of a strain on passing a budget, but it will not likely be a deciding factor. As far as the benefits to the school district taxes is concerned, it will help to defray some of the school district’s tax levy from the existing taxpaying households in Elwood, but do not think that your taxes will go lower – they will not! Your tax increases will be reduced and slowed down, but they will continue to rise in order to keep up with school costs. Additionally, and this is important, Elwood schools will not benefit from the taxes paid by this proposed development, the school district TAXPAYERS will benefit because the tax-base will be expanding. There is a difference! Focus on infrastructure. Shopping and driving and parking in Elwood when 442 condos are built in the heart of Elwood on Elwood Road and 800 – 900 adult residents move into Elwood. (Love to see that line in the First Class Bagels on Sunday morning) Think safety… Think about the changing landscape in Elwood. Then bring your thoughts to the TOH officials.
Nick Folger October 13, 2012 at 03:21 PM
cc..taxes will only increase for the following reason...the total assessment decreases as more folks protest and receive lower property assessments while school districts increase their tax levy. What is happening in Nassau will happen in towns across Suffolk county. So, the tax base will expand, but the total assessed value may not and that increases the tax rate. The only way to stop increases in taxes is to stop the increase in the tax levy in a greater proportion that the assessed value changes. That means voting down budget increases. The increase in the tax base due to the condo proposal is not relevant to the decision for its development.
Concerned Citizen October 13, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Nick, The first part of your coment is accurate, but then you go off on your vote down school budgets mantra that is not pertientent to this thread. And school costs will increase whether you decide to vote down budgets or not. Focus on the story and the facts... Stop with your politcal agenda until it is called for...
Concerned Citizen October 13, 2012 at 04:03 PM
How could you say that a development that will increase the current assessed valuation of Elwood by 5%-7% not relevant... Perhaps you missed something in math class. Keep your aguments focused on the discussion instead of introducing your politcal obsession.
Nick Folger October 13, 2012 at 04:09 PM
cc..I have no political agenda w/r/t this topic. You brought up the taxes and school districts etc.. My point, as clearly articulated in the last sentence, was that property taxes should not be relevant to the decision. The property tax is not in control of the developers. So what the developers could control is of interest to the surrounding community. That is relevant. That is it. If you don't care for my opinion, you are entitled just as I am.
Concerned Citizen October 13, 2012 at 04:44 PM
I think we may have a misunderstanding. My post was to point out that school taxes should not be the focus of any opinion related to the development. There are other issues. School taxes will be effected over the short-term, but taxes will rise for the reasons you mentioned. There is a concern that was mentioned that any development without children will enhance the probablity of a failed school budget. This is also something that should not be the focus of an opinion. I am hoping that the discussion on this development does not go as usual into an obession on school taxes, teachers, and the like... I am hoping it remains on topic relating to the development.
Old Fisherman October 15, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Mike, I'm with you. Give this up and there will be the lower income establishment looking to buy the land anyway. I don't believe you cou ever believe the town to retain it as a park so take your choice.
Old Fisherman October 15, 2012 at 04:10 AM
Are you assuming that with the increase in business there will not be another entrepreneur ready to open up a store in competition and possibly with better bagels? Is all your worried about is getting your bagels in the morning?
Jason October 24, 2012 at 09:19 PM
I am all for the increased tax revenue this will generate for the town, but like many, am concerned the traffic will become burdensome and overwhelming. 450 units on a 37 acre parcel seems quite dense. I would love to welcome this development, but only if we could reduce the number of units. I am also in favor of a 55+ community as it should have little impact to class sizes in our schools. I agree that it will be tougher to pass a school budget as undoubtedly there will be some older condo residents who's main concern will be their own taxes low, but it will also force our school district to work harder at developing a budget that will keep necessary, expire obsolete and add creative new programs while having a minimum impact on taxes.

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