Even Town Councilman Anthony Santino, who chaired the meeting in the absence of Supervisor Kate Murray, and had issued a statement 11 days earlier, along with Murray, saying, “We believe the proposal does not fit with the character of the neighborhood, and is wrong for Harbor Isle,” touched on the theme, without actually coming out against renters.
“Harbor Isle is one of the loveliest places in Hempstead Town, or anywhere else for that matter,” the statement, which was in the form of a letter sent to residents on Nov. 1, began. “Part of the charm and character of this hamlet is the people who live in the bedroom community. It’s a great place to live and raise a family, and we are committed to helping neighbors maintain this unique residential identity that is part and parcel of this jewel in the crown of Hempstead Town. Accordingly, we want to share some information on our efforts to preserve the integrity and allure of Harbor Isle.”
The town, however, has a covenant on the books that limits the number of rental units in housing developments to 10 percent of the total number of units to be built. The board refused to lift that covenant, effectively killing the plan.
Some of those at the meeting, where the formal vote was taken to keep the covenant in place, were ecstatic at the decision.
Harbor Isle resident and community activist Mark Tannenbaum spoke out against the project at the October hearing, arguing that the plan would increase the community’s population by a third and would bring in renters, who, he argued, “would have no roots in the community and would not care about its quality of life.”
Tannenbaum sat in the front row at last week’s meeting, cheered when Santino, who represents the community, announced the decision. “I knew what the decision had to be,” he said after the meeting. “I still had to be here to show my support. You never know what’s going to happen when politics is concerned. This is a big win for the Harbor Isle community.”
A woman who said she had lived in Harbor Isle for 40 years but declined to be identified, added that she had heard that the plan was going to fail, but she had to hear it for herself. “I’ve been waiting for a long time to hear what Santino said,” she told the Herald.