Consultant suggests expanding industrial zoning

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A consultant hired by the Town of Smithtown says industrial zoning should be nearly quadrupled in a section of Kings Park where residents complain there is too much heavy industry.

In an 11-page draft report circulating among town officials, Baldassano Architecture of Patchogue recommends changing the zoning on about 126 acres belonging to 10 owners at the intersection of Lawrence and Old Northport roads. Under the plan, a copy of which was obtained by Newsday, about 92 acres of undeveloped residential land would fall under a new zoning category allowing industrial uses.

Businesses on the remaining 34 acres, which are zoned for light industry, would be allowed to store equipment outdoors -- which is now barred.

"The community might not like this, at all," said town planning director Frank DeRubeis. "The industrial users in that area have not been good neighbors. This enlargement may end up becoming even a bigger problem."

Owners of homes near existing construction and mining businesses complain about trucking, noise and odors. But town officials say the companies predate zoning codes, limiting the town's attempts to control their activities.

Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio declined to comment on the report, known as the Lawrence Road study, which he said cost about $20,000.

Kings Park Civic Association president Sean Lehmann, who said he has not seen the report, said he may support rezoning the vacant residential properties, as long as zoning is "consistent" and "doesn't proliferate heavy industrial uses."

"It doesn't make sense to put houses alongside properties that are zoned industrial," he said.

The study's author, Baldassano principal Alexander Badalamenti, said the heavily excavated residential land is unsuitable for houses but could be used for light industry. He said the zoning change would reduce nuisances by requiring noise abatement measures and buffers between commercial and residential properties.

"It allows for responsible development," Badalamenti said. "It would be a positive for everybody. It gives the town better control over redevelopment of those sites."

Lawrence Road business owner Anthony Leteri said new zoning is needed to help the town replace existing businesses with new ones that can generate more tax revenue. "Our time has come and gone," he said.

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