WHEATLEY HEIGHTS, NY — Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts has withdrawn its application for 70 glamping units, according to the Town of Huntington.

Usdan aimed to build 70 units for camping and “glamping” on its 141-acre property bordering Melville and Wheatley Heights. However, pushback from the community has convinced Usdan to withdraw its proposal of glamorous camping units, according to the camp.

“After much thought & reflection, Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts has decided to withdraw its application for a special use permit, which would have allowed for ‘glamping’ within the woods of the campus,” Usdan Executive Director Lauren Brandt Schloss stated. “Ultimately, it’s more important for us to preserve our 55-year relationship with the neighboring communities. Usdan provides and will continue to provide an immersive and transformational arts experience for all.”

The Huntington Zoning Board of Appeals on April 7 delayed its decision on the glamping special use permit for three weeks to give Usdan time to respond to community concerns. Residents’ objections to the glamping units included lack of bathrooms, alcoholic beverages, campfires, cigarette and marijuana smoking, wildlife displacement, tree removal and land grading, ticks and general fire safety.

A website named StopUsdan.com was put together by Melville resident Michael Rosedale, who believed glamping would not have been in the best interests of the surrounding communities. A petition against the glamping units on the site garnered more than 1,030 signatures.

“Our relentless efforts have paid off,” Rosedale, 67, said. “Many people told us our effort was futile, that it was a done deal, and that we had no chance of stopping USDAN. The community came together and has proven that at a local level, America is alive and well — that when something is not right — that if you speak up, you can make a difference.”

Rosedale said he reached out to the UJA Federation of New York, which has Usdan as part of its network, and recommended that a resident from the community be added to their board. Alternatively, Rosedale suggested a committee of residents should be established to work with them.

“My hope is that now USDAN and the community will move forward, working together as a team,” Rosedale said.

Rosedale said residents will be attending the May 10 Huntington Town Board meeting to request the repeal of the enactment resolution 2021-306, which he said paved the way for Usdan to apply for glamping units in the first place.

“We want to make sure this never happens again in the Town of Huntington,” Rosedale said. “No overnight camping should EVER be allowed in residential-zoned districts.”

Throughout the process, Brandt maintained that residents’ feedback was “incredibly important” to Usdan.

“We really appreciate hearing our neighbors’ concerns, so we can continue to refine [Usdan’s plans] with them,” Brandt previously told Patch.

Usdan is a summer arts camp nonprofit that offers children ages 5 to 18 the chance to act, paint, sculpt, perform music, dance and more. The camp planned to generate scholarship funds with the glamping units so that lower and middle-income summer art camp students can continue to participate in the programs.

Usdan has been around since 1968 and draws between 1,000 and 1,200 campers per summer.


published 2022-05-12 21:56:49