Residents offered mixed opinions this week at a town board public hearing on a plan to rezone a historic Huntington village property that once hosted George Washington for dinner in 1790.
Developer Dominick Mavellia wants to change the zoning of a parcel on the corner of Route 25A and Park Avenue from R-15 Residence District to C-1 Office Residence District to make way for a 10,000 square-foot medical office building. Of that space, GoHealth Urgent Care would occupy 3,000 square feet, and 7,000 square feet would be regular medical office space for North Shore-LIJ Health System.
The project is located in the Old Town Green National Historic District and the Old Huntington Green Town Historic District and was the site of the former Platt’s Tavern, one of the first buildings in the area. According to town documents, Washington dined at the establishment on April 23, 1790, during a tour of Long Island.
At the time, Huntington’s population was around 2,000.
If approved, the new development would replace an abandoned gasoline service station/automotive repair shop, a deli and a vehicle storage yard. The demolition of the existing buildings and the construction of any new buildings would have to undergo architectural review and be approved by the Historic Preservation Commission, according to a town document.
The access to and from Park Avenue would be restricted to allow only right turns in and out of the property.
Also, East Main Street would be restriped in order to provide a left-turn lane for westbound vehicles looking to enter the site, and Park Avenue would be widened to provide a right-turn lane for northbound traffic looking to head east on East Main Street.
Part of the plan would also include situating a life-sized statue of George Washington beside his horse on the property.
An earlier iteration sought a zone change to C-4 Neighborhood Business District, which would allow for retail use, but the applicant amended his request for the zone change on the spot at Tuesday night’s town board meeting. The change came after consulting with “various members of the community,” according to a representative of the developer.
“Determining the fate of this exceptional corner and gateway to our great town is vital,” Mavellia, a lifelong Huntington resident, said at the meeting. “We heard everyone’s concerns loud and clear, hence the change in application to C-1.”
Mavallia also said he’s brought on a historical architect to work closely with town historians “to address their concerns and ideas.”
The main issue seemed to surround the proposed design of the structure, of which many individuals, including town board members Susan Berland (D) and Mark Cuthbertson (D), said didn’t look historic enough.
Cuthbertson said he took issue with the proposed awnings. “I’m hoping there’s room for discussion,” he said.
Berland said, “To me it looks like a CVS.”
Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) asked the developer’s representative if he would be consulting with the community on the design of the project, to which the representative replied he would.
Paul Warburgh, president of the Old Huntington Green Inc., said he was pleased the applicant decided to go with the C-1 zone change request, which is more in keeping with the character of the area and neighboring buildings.
“We’re here to work with the developer to put something there that will honor the Huntington Green and the historic area,” he said.
While some seemed heartened by the amended zone change request, others wanted to see the town take action and do something unique with the property, like rebuild Platt’s Tavern. Some said they were concerned the project would create even greater traffic issues. One individual wanted the scale of the building reduced, while some speakers — who were friends of Mavellia — supported the developer and spoke highly of his character.
The zone change was a big move for some who originally opposed the project, Petrone said in an interview after the meeting.
“That basically was a real change in terms of going to C-1, which was the biggest contention of our historic community especially,” he said. “And that has provided I think an opportunity now. They want to work together. So I’m hopeful that they’ll be able to come up with something that everyone will be proud of.”
Due to the amended zone change, the public record for the hearing will be held open for 10 days. Those interested may continue to submit written comments to Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia (R).