A proposed project that would bring an 890-unit gated community to Plainview is now open for public comment after a nearly eight-hour hearing last week at Howard B. Mattlin Middle School.
Residents, developers and Town of Oyster Bay officials packed into the school’s auditiorium to hear the details of the project and speak out either for or against. The room overflowed with hundreds of residents, with some standing at the doorways, sitting in the aisles and spilling out into the school’s gymnasium.
The developer, Michael Dubb, whose Jericho-based company Mile Development would build the project on a 143-acre property on the southwest corner of Old Country Road and Round Swamp Road, said he was left caustiously optimistic after leaving the meeting at close to 3 a.m.
“More people spoke for than against the project, but obviously, everyone’s opinion matters and the Town Supervisor [John Venditto] realizes that,” said Dubb. “I walked away quite impressed how the elected officials really listened to every resident. But at the end of the day, I’m a builder who has an excellent track record and I think they will take that record into consideration.”
Dubb, the principal and founder of the Beechwood Organization, the largest developer of residential housing on Long Island, has build gated communities akin to the Plainview proposed project in Westbury and Suffolk County. But with 890-units, the Plainview project, dubbed Country Pointe at Plainview, will be the largest on Long Island.
And it was the density of the project that raised the red flag for some local residents. Some said they would like to see a new traffic study for the area, as the last study was completed before Canon USA opened its headquarters in Melville last year.
“It looks nice, but it’s going to make Old Country Road look like Queens Boulevard,” said Margaret Berk of Old Bethpage. “Don’t make me move back to Queens. This is far too dense for this area. If I was moving to Long Island now, I would not want to live next to something like this.”
Venditto said the project’s density was the one sticking point that concerned him the most.
“A scaled-back version might be better suited,” he said. “No one knows what belongs here better than the residents. There is no better expert than the people who live here.”
Dubb said if the town decides to give him the green light to build, he would consider modifying the project in order to satisfy the demands of the public.
“If they [TOB] comes back with a ‘yes’ verdict, but with the request that I modify the project, then I will do my best to satisfy everyone’s concerns,” he said. “But I’m never going to make everyone happy.”
One well-known resident happy to be involved with the project is Jon Greenfield, owner of two Plainview ShopRite supermarkets. In addition to housing, the project would include a 70,000-square-foot ShopRite grocery store. According to Greenfield, his store has outgrown its space in the Morton Village shopping center, and if the Country Pointe plan is not approved, he will move out of the space anyway.
“This gives us the opportunity to address all of the concerns the public has about the Morton Village location,” said Greenfield. “More aisle space, lower shelves and a much less congrested parking lot.”
And Dubb said moving ShopRite out of Morton Village would serve to alleviate traffic in the center of town.
“This project would take that traffic away from the center of town and spread it out,” said Dubb. “He has outgrown his current location and he is leaving when his lease is up whether or not this project goes through. He wants to give the public what they need and we want him in this project.”
But beyond ShopRite, Dubb said the true crux of the project is to keep an aging population in the town they helped build. Of the 890 units, 536 will be age restricted and 264 will be non-age restricted. There is also a plan to include 90 affordable units for seniors.
“Instead of people being alone in their homes with empty bedrooms, this gives them a place with a lot of friends, support and keeps them close to family,” he said. “It really fills a need.”
However, while one resident appreciated the need for senior housing, she wondered how the developers could forget what she called a crucial segment of the population.
“We need to look at ways to bring young people back to this community. This development does not address the fact that we have homes that are half a million dollars that young people cannot afford,” said Susan Stewart of Plainview. “I think the project is too dense, but more importantly, there won’t be a community if there are no young people left here.”