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The Preserve at Indian Hills

Indian Hills Country Club. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

Officials in the Town of Huntington have scheduled a special cluster development hearing for Nov. 20 on The Preserve at Indian Hills. The draft environmental impact statement hearing ended Nov. 5, but concerns continue.

The 55-and-over housing development is proposed to be built on the Indian Hills Golf Course in Northport and have 98 town houses, a new fitness center and an expanded clubhouse alongside the existing golf course. 

The special subdivision hearing was scheduled due to the public’s high level of interest in the project. The draft environmental impact hearing was held in September, and typically that would have been the only hearing for the environmental impact report and its subdivision application. The planning board scheduled a separate public hearing in an effort to provide transparency and extend more time for the public to submit comments, according to town officials. 

Other project updates include the town voting to hire an outside consultant for the environmental review process on Oct. 10. Melville-based engineering firm AECOM will be tasked in assisting the planning board in evaluating the environmental impact statement. 

John Hayes, president of the Fort Salonga Property Owners Association, said they are anxious for the next stage in Preserve’s development process. 

“We were glad the town extended the public comment period, the more input we can put in the better,” he said.

The association sent in 180 pages of input to the town planning board.

Critics of the development have pointed to environmental impacts and negative effects on property values, as well as concerns on watershed quality and the surrounding wetlands. 

“Not much has changed [since the last hearing]. It is still overwhelmingly opposed by residents,” Hayes said. “There are pollution and environmental issues from the DEIS [Draft Environmental Impact Statement] that the developers need to understand.”

The president of the association also was concerned about the eroding bluffs near the proposed development. 

Previously, the group asked town officials to place a moratorium on new developments in the Crab Meadow Watershed area, which includes Indian Hills. Others have urged the planning board to complete the Crab Meadow Watershed study before making any conclusions on the project.

“We’re hopeful that the planning board will listen to our concerns,” Hayes said. 

After the preliminary subdivision hearing, there will be a final environmental impact statement hearing and then a final subdivision hearing. The planning board cannot vote on the development until the environmental statement process is complete. The application review period will extend into 2020, according to town officials. 

Indian Hills Country Club. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

Huntington Town officials released a draft of the long-awaited Crab Meadow Watershed Plan for public review March 23.

The 154-page study was prepared by GEI Consultants, with the goal of developing a community-driven stewardship plan that highlights best practices in the future management of the watershed area. The study focused on evaluating the environmental conditions of roughly six square miles of downward sloping land around the Jerome A. Ambro Memorial Wetland Preserve in Fort Salonga.

“Policies on everything from golf course pesticides to the types of road salt that we use can have an effect on the wetlands,” said Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) in a statement. “By adopting a stewardship plan, the town is looking to implement policies in the collective best interests of the environment.”

John Hayes, president of the Fort Salonga Property Owners Association, said his civic’s members have long awaited the results of this study. They believe its results would justify their concerns about development on Indian Hills Country Club, which lays on the border of Huntington and Smithtown.

Developer Jim Tsunis and The Northwind Group have a subdivision application pending before Huntington Planning Board to construct 98 townhouses for seniors age 55 and older, to be named The Preserve at Indian Hills, alongside the existing golf course and expanding the current clubhouse.

The Fort Salonga Property Owners Association has asked town officials to place a moratorium on new developments in the Crab Meadow Watershed area, which includes Indian Hills, until the stewardship plan was completed. They fear the addition of 98 homes will be devastating to the local wetlands.

“You don’t have to be a genius to see that the report indicates that it’s not a good idea,” Hayes said.

He pointed to a portion of the draft study that recognizes the watershed area is currently built out to its zoned density and, in his interpretation, any new development could severely impact the local wetlands.

“It does say that the development whether on existing sites or small developments — and this is not a small development — has the potential to take an incremental toll on the system,” Hayes said. “It follows that the primary watershed area, which includes Indian Hills Country Club, has the potential to have a more direct impact. That’s pretty straightforward.”

The property owners also cited concerns regarding excessive water runoff if townhouses are built on the bluff’s slopes. The proposed development they fear could worsen existing flooding of local roadways and increase pollutant levels of nitrates and phosphorus in various bodies of water, including Fresh Water Pond.

The Town of Huntington Planning Board is expected to vote Wednesday night on a resolution that would require The Northwind Group to perform a full environmental study of their proposed development.

“The board will be utilizing portions of the draft Crab Meadow Watershed Study to substantiate its decision to issue a positive [SEQRA] declaration,” said town spokeswoman Lauren Lembo. “A positive declaration is issued in order to establish the fact that the intended project may have one or more significant environmental impacts and that a Draft Environmental Impact Statement must be prepared to analyze potential impacts.”

Residents can review the full draft watershed report on the town’s website under the Planning and Environment Department page at: www.huntingtonny.gov/crab-meadow-watershed.

The town is accepting all public comments through April 30 either online or letters can be mailed to: Huntington Town Hall, Department of Maritime Services (Room 300), 100 Main St., Huntington, NY 11743.