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Matinecock Court underway amid statewide affordable housing debate

Business by: Chrissy Ruggeri, February 1, 2023

Ground clearing and prep work is officially underway for the Matinecock Court affordable housing project on the corner of Pulaski and Elwood Roads.

The Matinecock Court affordable housing project first proposed in 1978 is underway, with crews clearing the East Northport property on the corner of Pulaski and Elwood Roads for an expected June groundbreaking. Project developer Peter Florey anticipates the housing units will be completed by summer 2025.

Last week, Newsday reported that ground clearing and preparation work had been expedited after environmental consultants advised Florey that the region where the property is located is home to the northern long-eared bat, which will be categorized as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service beginning March 31. Under this new classification, the Department of Environmental Conservation is encouraging the voluntary implementation of forest management activities between December and February only, when bats are not expected to be present due to hibernation season.

The Matinecock Court development sits on 14.5 acres and will include 146 limited equity cooperative units, with 17 two-story buildings. Of the units, 18 will have one bedroom, 89 will have two bedrooms, and 38 will have three bedrooms. Qualified residents with a household income of $47,000 to $95,000 will be chosen through a lottery system.

The project has faced opposition since its proposal over 40 years ago. In 1988, the fight went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the Huntington National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), concluding that the town was violating the Fair Housing Act by restricting low-income housing to a nearby Huntington Station area populated predominantly by minority-group residents.

New York housing debate
The Matinecock Court land clearing comes on the heels of a statewide conversation about affordable housing in Huntington, an issue brought forth during New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s State of the State address on January 5, followed by a strategy announcement on January 10, where she proposed a statewide housing unit increase of 800,000 in the next decade. According to Hochul, most communities in New York are currently or close to hitting housing targets, but Long Island isn’t reaching the proposed growth.

“Every community in New York must do their part to encourage housing growth to move our State forward and keep our economy strong,” Hochul said. “The New York Housing Compact is a comprehensive plan to spur the changes needed to create more housing, meet rising demand, and make our state a more equitable, stable, and affordable place to live.” Her plan requires local municipalities, such as the Town of Huntington, to rezone for higher density residential development in areas within a half-mile of MTA rail stations.

Hochul noted during her speech that the Town of Huntington, in particular, added only 934 homes in the last decade, compared to an increase of 91,000 homes in Brooklyn.

In a response letter to residents published on January 19, Huntington Town Supervisor Ed Smyth wrote, “Governor Hochul’s criticism of Huntington housing is misplaced. The Town of Huntington is the gold standard for housing development in New York.”

“Where infrastructure can support it, Huntington has rezoned large parcels of land from single-family zoning to higher density residential zones. Avalon Bay in Huntington Station, Kensington Estates, Matinecock Court, and the Seasons at Elwood and East Northport, respectively, generated over 1,000 new units of housing. Each of these developments included 20% affordable units,” Supervisor Smyth explained, noting that Huntington is also on the forefront of creating new assisted living units for seniors, approving over 350 new units in the last five years.

The Supervisor added that the town’s existing sewers, roads, EMT/fire departments, garbage removal, parking, and environment cannot support the development that Hochul is proposing without spending billions of infrastructure dollars. “The Governor’s proposed $250 million for statewide infrastructure is a tiny fraction of the cost to support 800,000 new housing units,” he said.

“New projects almost always require demolition or repurposing of existing structures. Concern over changing large areas from commercial to residential is not NIMBY-ism, but rather a sober look at the challenges such re-development creates,” Smyth wrote.

On January 20, Republican officials held a rally at the State Office Building in Hauppauge to speak out against the state's proposed control over local zoning laws. Supervisor Smyth and Assemblyman Keith Brown both attended.

In response to the public disapproval of Hochul’s proposed plan, Roger Weaving, Vice President of the Huntington Township Housing Coalition, wrote in an op-ed published in Huntington Now, “We have to call out the Supervisor for claiming Huntington is the gold standard for housing development in New York, which is magical thinking of the highest order.”

Weaving continued, “Huntington is the town that fought Matinecock Court all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, then didn’t comply with most of the ruling, eventually running out the clock on the financing for these affordable homes… Huntington is only a positive model if you compare us to our closest north shore neighbors, which is why it is important that every town has to shoulder some of the load – our neighbors are not doing their part, either.”