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Friday, October 31, 2014
Harbor Isle development a toss-up
Town reserves judgment on $90 million project
Howard Schwach/Herald
Harbor Isle consists exclusively of one-family homes, most of which have been in the same families for generations, residents say.

After a contentious two-hour Hempstead Town Board hearing at which more than 20 people commented on a proposal to build 32 condominiums and 140 rental units on a contaminated piece of land in Harbor Isle, the board reserved its decision on the project, pushing the process to at least Oct. 15 and most likely until mid-November.

Farmingdale-based Posillico Development, in partnership with the Virginia-based Avalon Bay Communities, plans to build a development called the Battery at Harbor Isle & Avalon Yacht View on Island Parkway South and Sheridan Place in Harbor Isle, a small, 490-home community that shares a zip code with the Village of Island Park but is part of the Town of Hempstead. The $90 million project would include 140 rental apartments and 32 condominiums, and the condos would have luxury amenities such as boat slips.

The Town of Hempstead, however, has a covenant on its books that would limit the number of rental units in the Harbor Isle plan to 10 percent of the total number of units.

The Oct. 1 hearing was the beginning of an administrative process to decide whether the covenant would be lifted by the town to allow the 140 rental units. Once the board makes a decision, a formal vote on the application will be scheduled. The next meeting at which a decision could be announced is set for Oct. 15. Two more meetings will be held on Nov. 12 and 26.

In the audience on Oct. 1 were more than a dozen yellow-shirted union members, lending support to residents who oppose the plan. There were also more than 150 Harbor Isle residents, the great majority of whom indicated with their clapping and cheering that they, too, opposed the plan.

The developers, Michael Posillico and Matthew Whalen, a senior vice president of Avalon Bay Communities, addressed the board, detailing what they wanted to build. Posillico said that he was aware of the community’s opposition to rental units, but said that it made little difference whether the development would be all condos or a mix of condos and rentals.

“The only difference is who they pay their money to each month,” he said. “Renters pay to the landlord in the form of rent, and condo owners pay it to the bank in the form of mortgage payments.”

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