Thursday, August 24, 2006

Oyster Bay Should Tell AvalonBay What Kind of Development Is Acceptable to the Community

It was only about seven weeks ago that AvalonBay was abandoning its development plans for Oyster Bay because of public opposition (led to a great extent by Friends of the Bay) to its proposal to put 300 townhouses on the site of an old car dealership. Now though the company has announced that it has actually bought the property and will be back with some other development proposal.

Newsday quoted AvalonBay vice president Matthew Whelan thus:

Over the past three years we repeatedly heard from numerous residents, business leaders and local representatives in the Oyster Bay community about the challenges and need for an expanded variety of housing in the community," Whelan said in a statement. "Long Island continues to face a housing crisis with property values that are making it increasingly difficult for young professionals and seniors to remain part of the community.

I don’t live in Oyster Bay, obviously, but I have no problem with more housing being built there.

I do have a problem with developers who try to shove unwanted proposals down the throats of a community, hoping to outspend and outlast the opposition.

And I have an equal problem with a community that does nothing but say no instead of sitting down and firing out what it wants and then working with the developer to get it.

Organizations like Friends of the Bay can’t do everything but it would be nice to see them organize some community workshops that include as many legitimate stakeholders as they can think of (including the developer and some local officials and some professional planners), and work out a use for the property that everyone can live with. If they need some advice on how to do it, call the Pace University Land Use Land Center, in White Plains.

The property is going to be developed. The question is, what will it be developed as and who will decide. The answer to the second half of that question is that the community of Oyster Bay should decide.


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