Land Use & Municipal

September 03, 2013

[statement]“Opposition to the project focused on a proposed amendment to the Town’s zoning ordinance, so we worked closely with AvalonBay to create a new development scheme that was fully compliant with existing zoning laws and yet still met AvalonBay’s business objectives.” – Anthony S. Guardino, Partner[/statement]

When AvalonBay’s proposed multi-family transit-oriented development (TOD) in Huntington Station, NY, was rejected by the Huntington Town Board, the nation’s leading developer of high-quality apartment communities did not abandon its plans; instead, it turned to the counsel at Farrell Fritz to assist it in understanding the Town’s existing zoning regulations in order to determine whether the proposed development could be modified in a way that was likely to win the support of the Town Board and the local community.

“Opposition to creating a new TOD zoning classification was gaining traction in the community,” according to Anthony S. Guardino, partner in the Farrell Fritz Land Use & Municipal Group. AvalonBay had tried for more than a year to win approval of its TOD plan for the 26.6-acre site that had originally been zoned for 109 single-family residences. Its initial plan for a 530-unit TOD had given way to a scaled-back version with 490 units that was presented to, and rejected by, the Town Board over concerns that the proposed TOD zoning could be used by others in a way that would have unanticipated impacts. At this point, Anthony and his colleagues gave AvalonBay what he described as some practical advice: “Abandon the TOD zoning and work within the existing regulations.”

“Working with the firm’s real estate team and AvalonBay’s design professionals, we focused on identifying a multi-family development that could be built within the Town’s existing zoning laws, with all the amenities of a typical TOD, which satisfied not only the concerns of the Town and the community, but achieved AvalonBay’s business objectives for the project,” he explained.

The result: a 379-unit apartment and condominium community comprised of luxury and affordable units that fully complies with the Town’s R-3M zoning regulations. The project received site plan approval in February 2013 and is presently under construction.

“It’s been a long road, but we’re happy that we were able to navigate the process and get this project approved,” said Christopher Capece, senior development director of AvalonBay Communities.