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1,000 People Attend Huntington Melville Hearing: Hundreds Shut-Out; Video Shut-Off



By Maureen Daly 


Over 1,000 people turned-out Tuesday night for Huntington’s much-publicized Hearing on the proposed Melville Mass-Apartment Development, only to be shut-out of the Hearing as the construction contractors' Long Island Builders Institute (LIBI) was given all the prime early speaking slots. 


The Town also cut the normal video feed so no one could watch from home, and abruptly closed the Hearing early - at 10PM – with hundreds of residents still waiting to speak. 


The proposed high-density Melville apartment complex re-zone would change the zoning in a one square mile area of Melville from office buildings to high-density, four-story apartments. 


The original Resolution from the Huntington Town Board could have resulted in over 40,000 apartments, however - after this was exposed by the North Shore Leader - the Board called an “emergency” meeting on March 27th to put a “cap” of 3,000 apartments on the proposed construction project. 


At 3,000 apartment units, the Melville project would still be the largest apartment development project in Long Island history.  By comparison, the Garvies' Point development in Glen Cove is only 1,100 units. 


LIBI represents construction contractors and developers who would benefit from a huge multi-billion dollar construction project, like the one being proposed for Melville. 


The Melville apartment development is being pushed by Supervisor Ed Smyth (R-Lloyd Harbor) and Councilman Sal Ferro (R-Commack). 


Councilwoman Brooke Lupinacci (R-Lloyd Harbor) has opposed the proposal as a "mass-housing bait and switch" from the original concept of a "walkable Melville Town Center" which she supports.   At Tuesday night’s Hearing, residents were left dumbfounded, after LIBI’s developers showed up outside hours early – in coordination with the Town’s leaders – and were given all the early speaking slots. 


“It is important that the home building industry turn out to support this redevelopment plan,” stated LIBI CEO Mike Florio in an e-mail blast to construction contractors. “I would ask that anyone who lives, works or owns a business in the Town of Huntington to attend the meeting.” 


Florio was recently named CEO of LIBI, after serving as Chief of Staff to US Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove). 


LIBI held a 200 person “rally” hours before the meeting, with pre-printed political buttons, pre-printed "talking points" for speakers, and other pro-building memorabilia, in an effort to take all the speaking slots and block residents' public input. 


“This was a well orchestrated and calculated effort to shut the public down and they didn't do it alone," stated one Melville resident. 


In addition, the “hearing” opened at 7PM with an hour-long meandering presentation by Smyth to delay public input, including an "awkward" pre-recorded video of himself explaining the project, and a montage of stock photos he passed off as “possible” project renderings. 


Mixed in with LIBI's planted speakers, were a few "normal residents" who spoke out against the project. 


"When I learned that plans on changing Melville, I was interested to see them, only to learn that there are no plans," said Gail Gifford. "No survey plans, no SEQRA review, no analysis, no input from professionals, or impact on the surrounding area, nothing for review or for the public to comment on. Nothing." 


Another resident brought up the fact that one of the major landowners in the Melville Quadrangle - which would make tens of millions from a re-zone - was Galil Management, which has a long history as a notorious “slumlord” from Brooklyn. 


"This is the worst management company on the face of the planet," said Kat Hankinson. "They are slumlords." 


The public hearing was shut-down early – at 10PM - even though there was no notice given in advance. "Join us at the next Melville public hearing on May 7th," said Supervisor Smyth, as he cut-off the meeting.

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