Indian HIlls Country Club Entrance

Newsday – A senior housing development proposed for Fort Salonga is moving forward after receiving preliminary subdivision approval from the Huntington Planning Board.

Developers of the planned Preserve at Indian Hills, to be built on the grounds of the Indian Hills Country Club, can now seek a special-use permit from the zoning board of appeals, town officials said.

The permit would allow the builder to operate a golf course in a residential zone, town officials said. The community is approved for 86 units of housing with a combined clubhouse and fitness center.

Jim Tsunis, the Hauppauge-based developer, said the plan is to build 74 housing units.

“We have put our best foot forward and we will be building a beautiful low-density community that will preserve over 90 percent of the site,” Tsunis said.

The special-use permit can take up to a year to secure, town officials said. If the proposal gets the go-ahead, the planning board would have to approve a final subdivision map. That approval would most likely occur within three months from the date the zoning board of appeals acts on the permit application, town officials said.

The planning board voted 6 to 0 for preliminary approval at its May 12 meeting.

In April, the planning board accepted the findings of an environmental statement about the project, which was first proposed in 2016.

The community has been split over the development, mostly over environmental concerns. The nearly 155-acre property is near such natural resources as the Long Island Sound, Fresh Pond and the Crab Meadow wetlands.

John Hayes, president of the Fort Salonga Property Owners Association, which was formed specifically to oppose the development, said this latest approval was no surprise following the approval of the environmental finding statement. The group will keep opposing the development, he said.

“It was no surprise, this was obviously a rubber-stamp decision,” Hayes said. “There’s still a long way to go; the thing to emphasize is that it’s a preliminary approval.”

Keith Macartney, president of the Fort Salonga Association, another civic group covering the area, has supported the project in all of its iterations with the group’s main concerns being protecting the environment and preserving the golf course.

“That property could have been totally torn apart and been all houses,” Macartney said. “Whether now or 10 years from now, or 50 years from now, but at some point, it would have happened. The way they are going about this is the correct way.”

By Deborah S. Morris. Photo credit: Alejandra Villa Loarca