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Stop Apartment Over-Development

The over-development of apartment blocks and multi-family housing on the North Shore - often in the least rational locations - has already clogged our roads with too much traffic, and overloaded our infrastructure. It seems like some developers want to turn our neighborhoods into Queens, rather than protect our green, leafy neighborhoods.

There is a time and place for apartments and condominiums: Urban planners always urge that multi-family housing should be located close to transportation hubs and downtown areas. The rationale is clear: people living in high-density multi-family housing are best served by being able to walk to public transportation - buses and trains - or stores. And multi-family housing developments built away from transportation hubs become clogged with cars, since everyone then needs a car to get anywhere.

Long Island was developed as a suburban preserve of single-family homes. Unfortunately, our local governments have rarely been very good at urban planning, which is why so much of the multi-family construction that does occur, is done in scattered developments. The location of apartments too often reflects - not rational urban planning - but the political pull of the developers or their lobbyists.

That is why the proposals by Huntington Supervisor Ed Smyth to limit apartment developments and stop apartment conversions with inadequate parking is a needed and courageous stand. A welcome respite from the rampant building of new apartments.

Smyth's proposal is a result of the attempt by the owners of the Anne Taylor shops, in downtown Huntington, to convert their upstairs office space into rental apartments. Except the building has almost no parking, and all the new tenants would be using the public parking lots. On weekend nights it is already often impossible to find parking. Now add another 50 or 100 cars.

In Huntington, Hicksville, Northport, Glen Cove and Woodbury, thousands of new apartments have been recently built or are being planned. Sometimes - like at the Garvies' Point development in Glen Cove - the new buildings turn a blighted area into a luxury neighborhood.

But too often the new building just enriches the developer, while leaving the existing homeowners to pick up the extra cost of new sewage, schools, roads, and parking. The apartment development behind the Mandarin restaurant on New York Avenue in Huntington is one of the more egregious examples of political favoritism, as the former Petrone administration rushed through the approvals before leaving office four years ago. An ugly apartment block dropped into the middle of shopping center parking lots.

Let us demand better of our political leaders, and support those who are dedicated to keep out communities green, safe and suburban.


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