The public comment period for a proposed condo complex in the middle of a Huntington private golf course came to a close this week as residents and golfers alike expressed their frustration and excitement for the project.
The Northwind Group, a real estate company, bought the Indian Hills Country Club in 2016 for $30.5 million and applied for a zoning change to replace it with a 55 years and older community. Instead of dealing with zoning, they opted to make 98 units instead of their original 113.
The proposed housing clusters have been extremely controversial, with a Huntington planning board meeting in September turning into verbal battleground. The application has faced both criticism and praise from golfers, local residents and environmental advocates.
“I wouldn’t be happy if I were a member of the golf club,” John Hayes, president of the Fort Salonga Property Owners Association, said. “They’re actually reducing the amount of [land on] the course itself.”
The town’s planning board has butted heads with this issue since early in the summer of this year. During one meeting in early October, the board almost ended a public hearing after an unruly opponent to the application refused to step down from the podium, but the commenter yielded after he was told that the town hall’s security could get involved.
In July of 2019, private planning firm Nelson, Pope & Voorhis published a two-hundred thirty four page Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that claimed that The Preserve would be sustainable, safe and environmentally conscious. The town of Huntington is still examining the DEIS to ensure the development lines up with Suffolk County regulations.
“The numbers that they used obviously tried to show them in the best light,” Christen Kuhn, a vocal opponent of the development, said. Kuhn said that while the DEIS asserts that the units would only hold 1.5 people per household, that number is far too low for the 3 bedroom units. “That number of 1.5 residents impacts how much liquid waste generation there would be, how much traffic there would be.”
The development may also impact the coast north of the course.
“It’s messed up, because it’s a nice piece of land… the erosion zone, and where they’re building, they’re so over a fault of the dune and the cliff,” Andrew Reeves, a Fort Salonga resident, said. Reeves said that he believes that the development will cause more problems down the road. “Everything’s just going to be a big disappointment.”
Run-off isn’t the only natural issue the developers will need to worry about. As the Northwind Group puts up more buildings, they’ll have to worry about the health of their grass.
“It’s one thing to shade the grass under your front lawn with a tree, and it’s another thing to shade a putting green,” John Rogers, a professor of sports turf at Michigan State University said. “There’s a lot of abuse that goes on from the players in that game, and it takes a lot of sunshine to repair.”
Rogers later said that he considers Long Island the best place to golf, and he is a frequent tourist.
Once the Town of Huntington finishes analyzing the development’s environmental impact in 2020, the planning board will vote to decide if the Northwind Group can proceed.