More than 200 people attended Thursday night's Smithtown Town Board meeting, voicing concerns over controversial Kings Park issues -- industrial businesses that are violating zoning codes and a senior housing proposal.
Attendees spoke in two waves inside a room at the Eugene A. Cannataro Senior Citizen Center, which was filled at fire capacity, a public safety official said, forcing some people to wait outside.
About 100 owners and workers of industrial businesses donned red T-shirts that said, "Our jobs, our community, our future," decrying town officials for targeting them because the companies engage in heavy industrial practices, such as truck storage and debris recycling, on properties zoned for residential or light industrial uses.
"These businesses are important to the tax base and the future of economic growth in Smithtown," said Toby Carlson, owner of Carlson Associates, which recycles concrete, asphalt and trees. "People's livelihoods are at stake."
Smithtown this year has cracked down on several businesses located on Lawrence and Old Northport roads, seeking to permanently enjoin them from operating illegally in New York State Supreme Court. Neighbors of the businesses have complained about excessive truck traffic, noise and foul odors.
Two trucking companies -- Jezco of New York LLC and Jezco Containers LLC -- relocated to Yaphank from 1 Lawrence Rd. within the last month partly because of the town's pursuit of a restraining order in May, said Leonard Shore, attorney for John Gesuale, who owns the companies, earlier this week.
“He just felt that sooner or later with everything that was going on, he wasn’t going to be able to operate his trucking business on Lawrence Road,” Shore said in an interview this week. “So he decided to move now.”
In an interview, Smithtown planning director Frank DeRubeis said the speakers were "glossing over" details, adding that the town was not "trying to impede development."
But Saida Ralda, a bookkeeper for Carlson Associates, said, “Officials of Smithtown should be working with the Carlsons to grow the economy, not plotting how to put them out of business, and in doing so, take away my job, my husband’s job and . . . others’.”
Trustees of St. Johnland Nursing Home, which is requesting a proposed zoning change to allow the Uplands at St. Johnland -- a 199-unit senior development project that would be built on a wooded, 50-acre parcel on Sunken Meadow Road -- touted their potential contributions to the community.
Trustee Fred LaMarca said, "Senior members of this community . . . deserve to have the ability to remain in the community . . . in an environment created especially for them."
But Margaret Lewis, a member of the Kings Park Civic Association, said she was concerned about "the destruction of 50 acres of pristine, environmentally sensitive woodlands and the quality of life for the Kings Park residents."