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Town of Huntington

Indian Hills Country Club. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

More than 60 residents voiced their opinions on the proposed Preserve at Indian Hills development in Fort Salonga at a Town of Huntington Planning Board public hearing Sept. 18 to discuss the draft environmental impact statement on the project. Critics pointed to environmental concerns and negative effects on property values, while supporters viewed the project as beneficial to the community.   

Tony Izzo of Fort Salonga, said the development would have lasting negative impacts on the community. 

“Mr. [Jim] Tsunis [of The Northwind Group] wants to increase the size of the clubhouse by 30 percent and staff by 40 percent to accommodate a large catering restaurant,” he said. “The condos would be incompatible with the character of the neighborhood, it would double the size of the neighborhood.”

Izzo said he bought his house with his wife in 1987 with the assurance that the zoning would be R-40, which allows for the building of 1-acre single family homes. 

“We expected to be living in suburbia, instead we are told to accept a certain lifestyle — I’m not going to accept that,” he said. “These condos will negatively affect property values. Protect the citizens of Fort Salonga, not the builder. This must be rejected.”

“We expected to be living in suburbia.”

—Tony Izzo

The Preserve at Indian Hills would be a 55-and-over clustered housing development. In addition to the 98 town houses, the project also would include a new fitness center with an expanded clubhouse alongside the existing golf course.  

William Berg of the Crab Meadow Watershed Advisory Committee brought up concerns about the impact the development could have on the watershed quality and surrounding wetlands. 

“This study [the Crab Meadow Watershed plan] has not been completed or adopted by the Town Board,” he said. “Under land use the report states that the watershed is built out of its own density. I urge the Planning Board to call for the completion of the Crab Meadow Watershed study and thorough analysis of the information before making any conclusions on the project.”

Similarly, the Fort Salonga Property Owners Association asked town officials to place a moratorium on new developments in the Crab Meadow Watershed area, which includes the Indian Hills property. While most of the speakers opposed the development, a few residents were in favor of the project. William Muller, who is a member of the Indian Hills Country Club, said he was supportive of the Northwind project and pointed to the need for more senior living.  

“I have the belief that this plan will have less of an impact to the local community than the single-family alternative,” he said. “There is always a need for the 55-and-older community and this would provide a wonderful setting for that population.”

Other supporters mentioned the tax revenue school districts would be poised to receive from potential development and said the golf course and condos should be considered assets for the community.   

Barbara Duffy of Northport, had similar sentiments, stating she was supportive of the building of town houses. 

“Having lived near the 17th fairway for 40 years, I find it very exciting to see the possibility of protecting the golf course and making good use of the available open space,” she said. “As you all know condominiums are a dire need for the 55-and-over community.”

John Hayes, president of the Fort Salonga Property Owners Association, said in an interview that he thought the hearing went well and hopes the Planning Board will listen to their concerns. 

“This development has been overwhelmingly opposed by residents,” Hayes said. “We continue to challenge them on the density issues … being too close to residents homes. There are still problematic environmental issues that were not really tackled by the developers [in the study].”

The town will be accepting public comments through Oct. 18 either online or letters can be mailed to Huntington Town Hall, Department of Planning & Environment (Room 212), 100 Main St., Huntington, NY 11743.

Following public comments, the next steps for the development would be a final environmental impact statement and a possible preliminary subdivision hearing that has yet to be scheduled. 

Simple Good in Port Jefferson offers zero waste and sustainable products. Photo by David Luces

Millions of people around the world demanded action from world leaders on climate change as part of the Global Climate Strike Sept. 20. The protests have put the ongoing crisis back in the forefront. 

Recently, New York lawmakers aimed to tackle the climate change issue head on, as they passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, a bill that will aggressively target greenhouse gas emissions in the state. On Long Island, there are plans for two offshore wind projects, located off the East End and South Shore. The wind farms will provide close to 1,700 megawatts of energy, and are expected to power more than 1 million homes. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has mandated 9,000 MW of offshore wind capacity by 2035. 

 

Simple Good in Port Jefferson sells items made to be reusable or nontoxic to the environment. Photo from Melanie Gonzalez

While those goals are in the distant future, there are still things the average person can do on their own to help in the fight against climate change and environmental degradation. 

“It all comes to educating people and making sure they are aware of these issues,” said Melanie Gonzalez, owner of Simple Good at 35 Chandler Square in Port Jefferson which offers a number of sustainable and zero waste items. 

Gonzalez said the inspiration for the store came after buying plastic toys for years for her son, Julian, when she noticed the toys would break easily and she was left with tons of plastic packaging. 

“I was like, ‘What happens to all this plastic and where does it go?’” she said. “I was totally ignorant … but once I learned the facts [on plastic waste], it was life changing.”

Since then, Gonzalez has been an advocate of reducing plastic waste and protecting the environment. She believes Long Island has moved in the right direction on climate change and plastic reduction, but it may also come down to changing people’s habits and behaviors. 

The Rocky Point resident said it could be as simple as switching your plastic toothbrush with alternative that is made out of bamboo, which is more cost effective and in turn better for the environment. 

Gonzalez said everybody should avoid single-use plastic items and recommended using your own utensils when ordering takeout food. She also spoke on the importance of composting and recycling. 

“People are frustrated about recycling,” she said. “Long Island isn’t the easiest place to recycle.”

Last year, the towns of Brookhaven, Smithtown and Huntington had a rude awakening about their recycling practices when China announced it would cut its intake of U.S. recyclables by a huge margin. Municipalities across the nation were affected. In just one example, Brookhaven Town has moved back to asking residents to separate their garbage.

Gonzalez said she remains optimistic that the climate change movement on the Island is on the right track. 

A non toxic dishwashing bar that is sold at Simple Good in Port Jeff. Image from Melanie Gonzalez

Elisabeth Van Roijen, vice president of the Sierra Club at Stony Brook University, said Long Island is a much better place environmentally than it has been in the past. 

With about 60 other SBU students, she attended the Global Climate Strike rally in New York City. The Sierra Club at SBU helps students gain experience in political activism as well as experience the outdoors first hand.   

“The experience as a whole was incredible,” she said. 

The senior at SBU said the plans for the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act and offshore wind is something she is hopeful for. 

“The only problem is that it takes time, but having a goal is good because it pushes us to achieve results faster,” Van Roijen said. 

The chemical engineering major added that getting to those goals will need behavior and culture changes. 

“We have to start teaching these things at a younger age, as it is much harder to break out of habits when you get older,” she said. “It comes down to being more mindful.”

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The Town of Huntington is accepting applications for an affordable housing lottery. The deadline is October 13.

 Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci (R) is excited to announce that the Town of Huntington’s Community Development Agency is now accepting applications online, for nine two-bedroom, two-bathroom townhouses eligible for an affordable housing lottery in Kensington Estates, the luxury gated 55 and older community located on Jericho Turnpike across from Oheka Castle in West Hills.

 The Town of Huntington, in cooperation with the Huntington Community Development Agency and Triangle Equities, encourages all eligible individuals and families who meet the age, income and asset guidelines to enter the lottery for the opportunity to purchase one of the affordable townhouses currently available for sale. Applicants must be able to qualify for a mortgage.

 “We wish to thank Triangle Equities for bringing dream home living to the Town of Huntington, adding to its already unparalleled landscape,” said Leah M. Jefferson, agency director. 

 Applications will be accepted through Sunday, Oct. 13, and lottery selection will be held in Room 114 at Huntington Town Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 22, at 5:30 p.m.

 This development is restricted to people who are 55 years of age or older. Applicants must meet the age requirement at the time of the lottery application. In instances where a married couple or domestic partners that are registered are applying, only one owner must be 55 years of age or older. The owner(s) must occupy the home as his or her main domicile.

 Priority will be given to applicants who are town residents or who are employed by a business or entity that maintains a verifiable physical location within the town, or nonresidents who have parents, children, grandchildren or grandparents who are town residents. 

 The nine affordable homes at Kensington Estates consist of five two-bedroom, two-bathroom townhouses priced at $248,000 (80% AMI Maximum Income-eligible) and four two-bedroom, two-bathroom townhouses priced at $372,000 (120% AMI Maximum Income-eligible):

• The Belmont, a two-bed, two-bath first-floor unit with a 1,045 sq. ft. living area, an 188 sq. ft. covered porch, a one-car garage and a 47 sq. ft. shared covered entry porch is priced at $248,000.

 • The Delmar, a two-bed, two-bath firstfloor unit with a 1,095 sq. ft. living area, a 70 sq. ft. covered patio, a one-car garage and a 47 sq. ft. shared covered entry porch is priced at $372,000.

•The Beverly, a two-bed, two-bath second-floor unit with a 1,665 sq. ft. living area, two balconies totaling 117 sq. ft. balcony space, a one-car garage, and a 47 sq. ft. shared covered entry porch is priced at $372,000.

 *The estimated annual real estate taxes are $6,600 for homes priced at $248,000 and $9,900 for the homes priced at $372,000. Estimated Monthly HOA Fees are between $379 and $599 depending on the unit. 

*The developer has an application pending to change the tax classification from townhouses to condominiums, which if approved, will result in a substantial decrease in the taxes. In the event that you submit an application for the lottery and the application to change the classification is denied, the lottery entry fee is nonrefundable, but you will be under no obligation to move forward to contract with the developer to purchase a unit if we reach your lottery number and you meet the criteria to purchase.

A nonrefundable application processing fee of $26.50 must be paid online with submission of the application. All applications must be submitted online.

Eligible applicants will appear in list form on Oct. 17 at http://www.huntingtonny.gov/kensingtonestates. 

The townhouses are expected to be move-in ready by spring 2020.

Questions regarding application guidelines can be directed to the Huntington Community Development Agency at 631-351-2884.

Cars parked on the corner of Starlit Drive and Norwood Road near the Del Vino Vineyard. Photo provided from Norwood Community Watch.

Scores of Huntington residents attended the town’s September 17 board meeting to complain about Del Vino Vineyards, a Northport-based vineyard and winery. Homeowners say customers are parking on neighborhood streets, causing traffic congestion and safety concerns in the surrounding area after the vineyard parking lot fills up.

Earlier last month, the town board proposed changes to traffic code and creating “no parking” zones in the vicinity, but the vineyard’s attorney is challenging the idea.

Anthony Guardino, a Hauppauge-based attorney and representative for the vineyard’s owner Frederick Giachetti, said at the meeting that the proposed regulations violate New York State agriculture and markets laws.

“[The area] It has been designated as an agriculture district from the state,” he said. “…And the law prohibits governments from enacting laws that restrict or affect operations, unless there is a public health or safety concern.”

The town is proposing no parking zones on Norwood Road, Russell Court and Starlight Drive. The zones would go into effect from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays to Fridays and from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays in all zones except for Sound Court, which would be permanently a no-parking spot.

The attorney called the restrictions unreasonable and said it would be only fair to adopt a resolution that bans all parking on those streets regardless of the time. He also pointed out how soccer games on the weekends and school events contribute to the traffic congestion.

“We are operating within the confines of law we didn’t create it, it already exists,” Guardino said. “If the board wants to be fair, treat everyone the same.”

Mark Cuthbertson (D), Huntington councilman, took exception to Guardino’s remarks.

“It is a real conundrum for us, because they have used an exemption…it put us in a really difficult situation because some of the normal land use tools that we could use were not available to us,” he said. “And now we have a situation where basically the vineyard’s parking lot is the surrounding neighborhood.”

Norwood Road during the vineyard’s hours of operation. Photo from Norwood Community Watch

Cutherbertson said the spillover effect from parking in the neighborhood has been tremendous.

“Soccer teams don’t present the quality of life issues that the patrons of Del Vino pose.” he said.

After the meeting, in a separate email interview Nicholas Ciappetta, town attorney, said that Huntington does in fact have jurisdiction over parking in the residential area.

“While the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law preempts Town Zoning Code, the Town retains its authority over the regulation of traffic and parking on Town roads and protecting quality of life in our communities,” he said.

Matthew Karpoich, a homeowner on Starlit Drive, said he doesn’t think the proposed regulations will solve the parking issue and only push the burden back further to other neighboring streets.

“The core issue is that vineyard is not providing ample parking,” he said. “This is not a case of going from 50 percent capacity to 100 percent. When the vineyard is not open there are zero cars on our block and little traffic. We go from zero to 100 percent capacity,  bumper to bumper parking on our streets, when it is open.”

The Northport resident mentioned he bought his home so that his kids could ride their bikes and enjoy the quiet neighborhood. But said the presence of the vineyard has ruined that.

“The area has become the private parking lot for Del Vino,” Karpoich said.

Neighborhood residents voiced a range of safety and public health concerns related to the parking issue.

Those concerns included the possibility of drunken drivers, passed out patrons on lawns and public urinating. The business, residents said, has also resulted in steady traffic of Uber and Lyft vehicles on the local streets.

Roy Kennis, who bought his house nearly thirty years ago, said the quiet neighborhood he once knew is a thing of the past.

“Whenever Del Vino has an event the streets become a grand central station of cars, SUVs and pick-up trucks hustling to a parking spot on both sides of the street,” he said. “…They are unknown commodities only coming here for a few drinks.”

Lynn Ruder said the excessive parking have made many roads a one-way street.

“This a recipe for disaster, it is only a matter of time before there is a car accident or worse,” she said. “I urge you [the town board] to install no parking signs as soon as possible, as this is the one thing you have jurisdiction over.”

The vineyard has been a thorn in the side of many residents since site plans were first introduced in 2015. Some pointed out that similar businesses, like Harmony Vineyard in Head of the Harbor, have regulated that street parking is not permitted anywhere and it can only serve the number of customers that its parking lot can accommodate.

The next town board meeting is scheduled for Oct. 16 at 7 p.m.

Article was updated Sept. 26 to include information from the Huntington town attorney. 

 

Sen. Gaughran, Assemblyman Stern and Highway Supervisor Orelli stand in front of debris cleared from June 30 storm that ravaged the town.

Following passage of two major bills to support local roadways, state Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport) and Assemblyman Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) joined the Town of Huntington Highway Superintendent Kevin Orelli at the Huntington Highway Department to emphasize the importance of improving conditions for Huntington’s highways and drivers. 

The first set of bills, S.4363 and A.6547, raises the limits on capital expenditures used for the repair and improvement of highways in the town from $400,000 to $1,000,000, bringing it in line with neighboring municipalities. The second set, S.5422 and A.1235, protects drivers by expanding the state’s liability for damages suffered by individuals due to defects in state highways.

“It’s a step in the right direction, but I have no money.”

— Kevin Orelli

Orelli stressed the fact that the capital expenditure bill is not about getting more money from the state, adding it instead addresses an archaic rule that prevents the Highway Department from spending more than $400,000 in one year on equipment spending. The town, he said in a telephone interview, has fallen behind and is badly in need of new equipment, which is funded by the town and taxpayers. 

“I thank the legislators for their work,” Orelli said. “It’s a step in the right direction, but I have no money.” The town allocated no monies for equipment in this year’s budget, he said.

“We don’t have the money we need to do the job properly. We can’t do what we need to do,” he said.

The department recently retired around five snowplows and has been using antiquated equipment to repair potholes, It lacks basic machinery such as a chip truck, pay loader and a brine truck. A new super sucker, which the town needs to clean out storm drains, the highway superintendent said, costs $408,000.  

The Highway Department, he said, has been the department that gets budget cuts. Over time, it’s gradually fallen behind. The department once employed 300 people, but now operates with a staff of 150, Orelli said. The highway building itself, he said, is old and has too low of a clearance for some trucks to park inside for repair work.

State lawmakers said that they understand the situation has been decades in the making. 

“These bills are important protections to allow safe and swift repair of our local roadways and to our motorists,” Gaughran said. “S.4363 modernizes an arcane statute and allows the town to respond quickly and appropriately during an emergency.” 

Stern agrees.

“The bill helps ensure that the Huntington highway superintendent has the resources necessary to maintain the quality and safety of our roadways by updating an arcane section of the law that had not been changed in more than 40 years,” Stern said in an email response.

The proposed budget increase brings Huntington in line with neighboring towns including Smithtown, which has a $800,000 limit and a sizably smaller population. Huntington’s population as of the 2010 census was 203,264 population. Smithtown’s as of 2010 was 117,801.

Once the governor signs the capital expenditure bill, the town will need to decide how to pay for upgrades. 

“It is encouraging to hear that the state passed the legislation, which the Town Board urged them to pass earlier this year, to support increased funding for highway equipment.”

— Chad Lupinacci

“It is my intention to meet with each town board member and ask for a substantial increase in the highway tax,” Orelli said. “As you are probably aware, it is difficult from a political perspective to raise taxes. Keeping this in mind, I am asking the Town Board to put this issue up for a voter referendum and let the taxpayers decide whether or not they want to increase their investment in our infrastructure.”

Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said that he supports improvements. 

“It is encouraging to hear that the state passed the legislation, which the Town Board urged them to pass earlier this year, to support increased funding for highway equipment,” he said in an email request for comment. “I have always supported measures funding road rehabilitation and equipment funding for highway and road maintenance. The Town Board failed to approve equipment funding at our March meeting, but I sponsored the resolution funding the purchase of up to $400,000 in new highway equipment, and I sponsored and voted for up to $4,750,000 in road and traffic safety rehabilitation measures for 2019, which passed at the same meeting.”

Of those funds $3 million were used for paving, $1 million for drainage with the rest going toward sidewalks, pavement markings and traffic signal and traffic calming improvements.

State liability 

State roads are maintained separately and unrelated to the Town of Huntington’s roadway situation. The second set of legislator’s bills address the state-imposed liability limits for damages caused by poor state road conditions. 

Currently, motorists who suffer damages due to defects on local roads may pursue damages against the locality at any time during the year if the municipality had advance notice of the defect, according to Gaughran’s office. Yet, motorists who suffered damages due to defects in state roads can pursue damages against the state only if the incident occurred between May 1 and Nov. 15. If the incident occurs between Nov. 16 and April 30, motorists are out of luck. 

“S.5422 protects local motorists on state roadways, because drivers should not be stuck paying out-of-pocket for damages caused by a defect in a state highway that should have been repaired.”

The state has developed several systems to combat pothole problems. Motorists are encouraged to call 1-800-POTHOLE to report a pothole on Long Island’s state roads. The state reports that it receives hundreds of pothole reports through these phone calls, and through letters, emails and social media. New York uses 5,000 tons of asphalt for road repair on Long Island, according to New York DOT spokesman Stephen Canzoneri.

“The NY State Department of Transportation aggressively fills potholes throughout the year on more than 4,000 lane miles of state highways on Long Island,” Canzoneri said. “In the winter, we enlist additional crews, who work days, nights, and weekends.” 

But, the current arrangement lets the state off the hook during crucial months.

“The bill [A.1235] would provide a more effective way to hold New York State accountable to motorists with claims for unsafe road conditions that cause damage or injury,” Stern said. “It will help provide efficiency, responsiveness and accountability. These measures together will certainly help to protect our suburban quality of life.”

The governor’s office did not respond to repeated request for comment on the two bills. 

Adele Gordon poses with her cakes to celebrate a milestone occassion. Photo from Gaughran’s office

Huntington resident Adele Gordon celebrated her 100th birthday Aug. 23. Gordon was surrounded by friends and family as she blew out the candles on three extraordinary cakes to celebrate. NY State Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport) presented her with a Senate Proclamation on behalf of the Senate in recognition of the milestone occasion.

“Adele Gordon has been an active, exceptional community member in the Huntington community for decades,” Gaughran said. “It was my honor to join her for a celebration of 100 years of life and present her with a Proclamation in recognition of this milestone. Happy Birthday Adele!”

Officials train residents on how to avoid being taken

Phone scams are on the rise, and officials say these and other scams are targeting the senior population.

Local government representatives emphasize that the elderly need to be better informed about what to look out for and how to avoid them.

On Aug. 20, at the Huntington Senior Center, state Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport),Town of Huntington Receiver of Taxes Jillian Guthman and state attorney general representative T.J. Hatter held a Smart Seniors event. Together they cautioned seniors against handing over large sums of money through phone, email, letter and internet scams. 

“These scammers will use fear if they think that will work, they will use kindness and they will use intimidation,” Hatter said. “The important thing is to please do not send these people your money. It is very hard to get it back once it is gone.” 

One of the most common scams targeting the senior population includes the sweepstakes scam, which requests the “winner” to send a check or wire money to cover taxes for their prize. Another one is where the scammer will act as a relative, such as a grandchild, and claim to be in danger. Sometimes, the scammer acts as a lawyer or police officer. In each case, they ask for money immediately. 

“There are two approaches to dealing with these types of scams,” Hatter said. “Ask for the person’s name and a call-back number.” He also recommends answering the phone only if you recognize the number as a friend or a loved one. “Let everyone else leave you a message,” he said. 

“The important thing is to please do not send these people your money. It is very hard to get it back once it is gone.”

— T.J Hatter

Hatter said the scammers are often out-of-the country and can’t be traced. 

“These scammers are using something called routing technology,” he said. “The idea is to make the number they are calling from have a ‘631’ or ‘516’ area code to make it look more local and make it more likely someone will answer.”

According to Suffolk County officials, in 2018, there were 68 phone scam incidents reported, targeting the elderly and non-English speakers. Of the 68 victims, 40 were elderly, as reported in a January 2019 TBR News Media article. Between 2017 and 2018, the largest amount of money taken in once incident was $800,000, according to Suffolk County police. 

In 2019, nearly half of all calls to mobile phones will be scammers looking to fraudulently gain access to financial information, according to a report from telecommunications firm First Orion. 

One of the latest scams to target seniors urges them to purchase gift cards to help a relative in trouble. 

“We are finding that [scammers] are asking for those prepaid gift cards and then they will ask you to scratch off the back and read them the numbers,” he said. “That’s the most common one we are finding right now.” 

Home improvement scams are also common and often offer “free inspections.” The inspections will almost always find a problem that requires an expensive solution.

“Someone will knock on your door and say they are a repair person and ask if something is wrong with your home,” Hatter said. “They will say they can fix it and even offer you a discounted rate. Do not pay this person.” 

Hatter said ultimately you hold the power so if you are not sure that you recognize the caller, you are not forced to answer the phone. 

The Office of the Attorney General urges people to use strong passwords and avoid using birth dates, Social Security numbers and mother’s maiden names in them.

If you shop online, be sure the sites you use are secure. A secure site will start with https:// and most use a padlock icon, which will tell you the name of the owner. Also, use only credit card rather than debit or check cards.

“Debit cards, even those with a credit card name and logo, do not carry the same protections,” the Smart Seniors program states. If credit card information is stolen, you are only liable for $50 in fraudulent charges. If your debit card information is stolen and the thief wipes out your bank account, the money is gone. 

It’s also important to remember that email scammers often masquerade as a familiar and trustworthy company, such as your bank, online store or credit card company. Sometimes they pretend to be a government agency. These scammers are “phishing” for personal data and often claim that there’s a problem with your account. Do not click on a link no matter who they claim to be. You may be directed to a bogus, look-alike website that spoofs a real company. 

“The key to the phishing scams is that they ask you to provide personal information, such as your Social Security number or password, so they can “confirm your identity,” the program warns. 

“If you get a call, text or email from a company claiming there’s a problem do not respond,” the Attorney General’s Office states. Instead delete the message or hang up, and contact the company yourself. It’s important to protect your personal information. Papers should be shredded before you throw them away. 

New Yorkers donate more than $10 billion to charitable organizations each year, with older New Yorkers being the most generous, the Attorney General’s Office states. It is suggested that you confirm that a charity is registered with the Attorney General’s Office, as required by law and find out if the funds will be used for programs, administrative costs and fundraising. Avoid charities that will not answer questions about its programs and finances. 

Residents can greatly reduce the number of unsolicited calls, mailings and internet offerings they receive. The National Do Not Call Registry can be reached at 800-382-1222. You can place your landline and your mobile number on the Do Not Call List. Registration never expires. Political organizations, charities and telephone surveyors are still permitted. 

Patricia Wagner, a Huntington resident who attended the session, said she was grateful. 

“This was really informative and I’m going to share this information with my friends [who are not here],” she said. “We are getting older … we need an event like this every year.” 

Employees from John’s Crazy Socks with members of Huntington town board

Huntington Councilwoman Joan Cergol, at the Aug. 6 Town of Huntington board meeting, gave special recognition to Melville-based online retailer John’s Crazy Socks, which was cited recently as a winner of a national accounting firm’s Entrepreneur of the Year awards.

The company was founded two years ago by Huntington residents Mark X. Cronin and his son, John, upon John’s graduation from high school. John had said he wanted to go into business with his father, and they settled on one capitalizing on John’s fondness for unusual socks.

Mark and John Cronin with Councilwoman Joan Cergol

From humble beginnings, the firm has grown into one that produced $5.5 million in revenue in its second year, selling 2,300 varieties of socks and receiving more than 20,000 online reviews. A hallmark of the company is its dedication to having a social impact. More than half of its workforce has differing abilities, including John, who has Down syndrome.  Through videos, social media, school tours, work group and speaking engagements, the Cronins demonstrate what persons with differing abilities can do.

The company also pledges 5 percent of its earnings to the Special Olympics and donates money from its Awareness and Charity sock lines to other charity partners, including more than $300,000 for the National Down Syndrome Society, the Autism Society of America and the Williams Syndrome Association, among other groups. Mark and John Cronin have spread their message of maximizing potential and social consciousness through speaking engagements across the United States, Canada and Mexico.

In June, the accounting firm Ernst & Young presented John’s Crazy Socks with one of its 2019 New York Region Entrepreneur of the Year awards, in the Mission Drive category. The awards recognize entrepreneurs and leaders of high-growth companies for innovation, financial performance and their impact on the world.

“Their workplace is absolutely amazing,” said Cergol, who visited it a few months ago. “John and Mark Cronin are truly inspirational as role models for successful business plans and corporate responsibility. We have known this for some time, and it is exciting to see that they are receiving national recognition for their work. I wish them even greater success in the future.”

Photos from Town of Huntington

Northport power plant. File photo

At the Long Island Power Authority’s July 24 board meeting, Larry Kelly, a trial attorney, described at a public comment session how LIPA in 2006 and 2007 instituted what he called “the largest tax fraud” he’s seen in his 35 years as a lawyer, according to Huntington Town councilman, Eugene Cook (R).

Cook has independently asked New York State’s Public Service Commission Chairman John Rhodes in a letter dated Aug. 6 to review and “forcibly address” the issues. 

According to Cook, Kelly alleged that LIPA used the tax system to extend tax exemptions and reductions to Caithness power plant, which was awarded a contract to build a new 350-megawatt power plant in Yaphank, and then used those low taxes to argue in court that National Grid’s four aging power plants on Long Island were overassessed.

“I also request the PSC review LIPA’s ‘unclean hands’ in the Northport filings, and the impact that should have on LIPA’s continued operations,” Cook’s four-page letter concluded. The letter was sent on a town letterhead, but was not signed by other town board members, the supervisor or the town attorney.  

Councilman Eugene Cook

The term “unclean hands” is a legal defense which essentially references a legal doctrine that states a plaintiff is unable to pursue tax equity through the courts if the plaintiff has acted unethically in relation to the subject of its complaint. 

The allegations are surfacing just weeks after closing arguments were presented July 30 in LIPA’s tax certiorari case with the Town of Huntington for the year 2014. It is unclear how the allegation could potentially impact the outcome of the case as post-trial deliberations continue. The unclean hands defense was not part of the town’s defense, according to the Town Attorney Nick Ciappetta, who offered no public comment on the allegations.  

Kelly, a Bayport resident who ran for a New York State Supreme Court judgeship in the 2018 election, is unaffiliated with Huntington’s case, but said his obligation as a trial lawyer is to act as a steward of the law. 

LIPA did not respond to email requests for comment on the public allegations. 

A LIPA press release dated Jan. 25, 2006, stated that the Caithness plant in Yaphank would include a $139 million payment in lieu of taxes agreement with $100 million over 20 years going to Bellport’s South Country school district. 

LIPA’s 2019 Property Tax Reduction pamphlet, which is publicly available and published on its website, highlights the value of Caithness plant in contrast to the Port Jefferson, Northport and three other plants. On page 14 of the report, LIPA stated that in 2016 Caithness paid $9.7 million annually in taxes, while the Northport plant paid “eight times” as much in taxes, or $81 million, and Port Jefferson paid “three times” as much in taxes, or $33 million.  

The report also stated on page 14 that LIPA reimburses National Grid under its contract more than it earns in power revenue, a sum that factors in property taxes. 

“Those losses, the amount by which costs exceed the value of power, are paid by all 1.1 million electric customers,” the report said. It indicated that LIPA’s goal for filing tax challenges in 2010 against Nassau County, the Town of Huntington, the Town of Brookhaven and the Village of Port Jefferson “in an attempt to obtain a fair tax assessment on the four legacy plants.” 

In a telephone interview, Kelly referred to a Feb. 15, 2012 meeting with the Town of Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency, which recorded a Caithness representative explaining that “LIPA pays the PILOT to Caithness who then makes the PILOT payment to the IDA, and then they get a check back from New York State which is then returned to LIPA.” 

The minutes further stated, “This is the only power plant on Long Island that the ratepayers are not paying any real property taxes net out of pocket for the first 10 years, resulting in a saving of $80 million.” 

Kelly and Cook, in presenting the allegations publicly and to the commission, claimed that Bellport’s school district, South Country, which Cook said in his letter is comprised of 40 percent minority populations, were shortchanged tax revenue that could have funded school programs. Representatives from the South Country school district did not respond to email and telephone inquiries about their tax revenue from Caithness. 

The Public Service Commission has said that it has received and is reviewing the letter from Cook. It offered no other response to questions related to its potential response.

Town of Huntington Department of Maritime Services bay constables clean up the harbor, remove derelict boats and hardware from Huntington waterways on July 24, 2019. Photo from the Town of Huntington

The Town of Huntington Harbormaster’s Office will start mooring permit enforcement on Friday, August 16. Boaters are urged to submit a mooring permit application by August 15. Unpermitted boats will be fined $250 starting August 16.

The Huntington Town Board approved a major boating safety and water quality protection measure at the June 18 meeting to help prevent irresponsible boat ownership and irresponsible boating, after the town spent $50,000 to remove derelict and abandoned boats in 2018.

The new system establishes a $40 per season resident permit fee, with all funds deposited into the Board of Trustees account.  Non-residents already paid $200 per season for the same permit.

The move aims to place liability for removing, storing and disposing of unseaworthy and wrecked vessels on the owner or person responsible for the vessel.  The funds will also be used for pollution mitigation and remediation of other navigational safety hazards.

 Revenue from the permit fee will help the harbormaster’s office build a database to help the town identify owners of boats abandoned in Huntington’s waterways and hold violators responsible for creating hazardous boating safety conditions. 

The approved measure also established and increased required insurance limits for vessel wreck removal and pollution mitigation.

The new regulations also lowered the cost, from $200 to $40, for transient commercial mooring permits for commercial entities leasing or owning land in Huntington, to help boost the town’s maritime economy.

 The mooring permit application can be found on the town website at: http://www.huntingtonny.gov/mooring-permits. 

Mooring permit applications may be submitted, with the proper paperwork and payment by check (or by credit card in the office), in person or by mail, to: Huntington Board of Trustees, Harbormaster’s Office, 53 North New York Avenue, Halesite, NY 11743. Documents may also be faxed to 631-351-3373 or emailed to tshannon@huntingtonny.gov.

 The Harbormaster’s Office is open Monday through Friday 8:30 AM-4:30 PM. For application assistance, call 631-351-3255 or email Trudy Shannon at tshannon@huntingtonny.gov.

The town is allowing commercial baymen who operate in Huntington’s waterways to have their mooring permit included with the issuance or renewal of their commercial license.

compiled by Donna Deedy