The President’s Message — Winter 2017
Dear Fort Salonga Neighbors,
2016 was a tumultuous year for our community and your board, initiated by the sale of the Indian Hills Country Club (IHCC) to a developer.
With the declining interest in golf, and the closure of many Long Island courses, it finally took the offer of a developer to thread the needle, proposing to both develop AND retain the course. The only way these two objectives could be reconciled was situating approximately 108 townhouses on the course, while saving enough of the 150 acre parcel to retain the course by changing the zoning to R-OSC, Residential Open Space. As our last parcel of effectively undeveloped land, this created a dilemma since cluster and townhouses have long been anathema to our community. Since the course is already zoned 1 acre residential, if this plan fell through the developer would build over 100 single family homes and eliminate the course entirely.
The FSA initially arranged an informational meeting with the community and the developer. While well attended, it was disrupted by a group of angry residents living adjacent to the course who accosted residents and distributed “Stop 108” buttons. This “Stop 108” movement has since evolved into the Fort Salonga Property Owners Association (FSPOA), mostly representing homeowners adjacent to the course and who are angrily opposed to any changes to the course. We all prefer the course as it exists but this is not the real world and just a tri-umph of hope over experience. Your board spent many months analyzing and debating the issue, reaching out to residents, talking to the developer, and researching other such developments, along with multiple site visits. The builder has also made a number of concessions to nearby residents and is aiming the development at the 55+ age group, providing school tax relief and a retirement glide path for our residents. Huntington will be holding public hearings of which the community will be notified, and we encourage all to attend and make your individual feelings known to town officials.
The opposition to your board crystallized around a vote we took to support the zoning change permitting cluster development similar to what Huntington has approved elsewhere, consistent with their master plan. We withheld concurrence to the actual development plan until the environmental analysis is complete. We are also committed to total development not to exceed one residence per acre overall. This vote of 10 to 2 was democratic and consistent with every decision your board has ever made over the past 70 years. Two board members living adjacent to the course strongly disagreed and decided to promote an independent challenge in our annual election. After three of their candidates withdrew, they nevertheless pursued an aggressive media campaign, attacking the board and me personally. After losing the election, they have both since resigned.
We understand their concerns regarding the threat this development poses to their privacy and property values. Our responsibility, however, is not to the few but to the many. We feel this plan, given that development is inevi-table, provides the best solution. Unfortunately, instead of debating the issue on its merits, this has evolved into a personal attack on me and the board using local media and Facebook as the prime vehicles. We regret these tactics and the “shoot the messenger” approach instead of a civil debate on the merits of the argument. Your board works hard for the community with no compensation, only the satisfaction of upholding our 70 year tradition of keeping Fort Salonga the gem it is — therefore these attacks are very disappointing.
We will miss the positive contributions our former directors made to the organization but we are actively replacing them with new enthusiastic individuals who you will read about in this newsletter.
I know you join with me in hoping that 2017 will be a better year and we can once again come together and appreciate our truly special community where we have so much to be proud of!
With warmest regards,
President Fort Salonga Association