Bohemia residents protest apartments

A plan to build 34 apartments at Smithtown A plan to build 34 apartments at Smithtown Avenue and Union Street in Bohemia faced opposition from residents at last week's Islip Town planning board meeting. Photo Credit: Quinn O'Callaghan

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A plan to build 34 apartments at Smithtown Avenue and Union Street in Bohemia faced opposition from residents at last week's Islip Town planning board meeting.

They voiced concerns at the meeting about traffic and what they call the changing character of the neighborhood.

"There are enough rental units in this neighborhood," said Timothy Gillen, 53, who lives on nearby Walnut Avenue. "I believe this is going to ruin the atmosphere of the neighborhood," Gillen said Thursday, adding his dog was killed by a car on the block. "I don't want any more traffic."

Eugene DeNicola, the Sayville-based attorney for the applicant, said the 3.7-acre parcel, if approved, would have three two-story buildings with one- and two-bedroom apartments and 83 parking spaces for residents. Other than emergency service vehicles, drivers would have to come into the property through an entrance on Smithtown Avenue and not through quieter Walnut Avenue, DeNicola said.

Cheryl Thomson, 43, who lives on Walnut Avenue, said her major concern is traffic and the speed at which, she said, people travel down Smithtown Avenue. "I think if you put 83 more parking spaces, you're going to have 83 more people driving like Mario Andretti down our street, which I take offense to," she said.

Thomson added she's concerned about the changing character of the neighborhood, where she's lived for 36 years. There is an apartment building nearby, she said, and beer bottles and drug needles litter the ground near that property.

Based on the recommendation of the planning department, the board moved to reserve decision on the application. Planning Commissioner Dave Genaway said he was concerned about the size of the buildings, adding that 34 apartments might be too much at that location; the vacant property is currently approved for 20 apartments.

In other business, the planning board praised a plan by the Town of Islip Housing Development Corp. to build a three-unit apartment building on Lakeland Avenue in Bay Shore but reserved decision on granting a change of zone from Industrial 1 to Downtown Development District.

Genaway called the site design "exceptional" and the landscaping design "extraordinary," and said the plan provides much-needed affordable housing in an attractive complex.

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