About 125 residents, politicians and activists assembled in front of the 18-acre Whitestone Waterpointe site on Sunday to protest overdevelopment in the neighborhood, venting years of frustration over developers’ plans.
The We Love Whitestone Civic Association-organized rally reflected the unity of neighbors, who have fought against overdevelopment plans on the site at 151-45 Sixth Rd. for nearly a decade, to stay strong and hold current developer Edgestone Group to a community-supported plan for 52 single-family homes instead of one for 107 townhouses.
“We want to make sure what they say stays,” said Alfredo Centola, president of the civic group. “How do we know that they are not going to turn around and pull a fast one by trying to appease the community for now?”
Last month, Edgestone unveiled a plan for 107 townhouses with a total of 203 units — quadruple the original 52-home plan, which was decided years prior. The developer switched back to the original plan after facing community pressure.
Opponents said the larger proposal would harm the community, because the population increase could put a burden on public services and institutions, such as sewers and schools. Additionally, they want to protect the contextual character of the neighborhood.
“I was born and grew up in Whitestone. It’s a beautiful town and they would destroy it with all this construction,” said resident Donna McCutchen. “This whole area has one-family homes. That’s what we want to keep it like here.”
The 52 single-family residences could retail for about $2 million each, according to the architect Joe Sultana. About 40 will be between 2,000 to 3,000 square feet with private yards and garages. The remaining 12 will be bigger, more luxurious homes, closer to the waterfront.
An environmental cleanup of the site will begin later this year. After the site has been cleaned, Edgestone will reapply to update the original special permit to construct the 52 homes.
That special permit, which expired a few years ago, symbolizes the community’s opposition to overdevelopment of more than just the Waterpointe site.
“The one great thing about this plan when it was approved is it was a template for future development,” state Sen. Tony Avella said. “We’re not going to let that template be destroyed and all of a sudden a new developer comes in and they say, ‘Well they were allowed to do more.’ The line in the sand is here.”