Plans to create a new zoning overlay district that would allow taller buildings, outdoor storage and additional parking in the Hauppauge Industrial Park have been crafted, nearly two years after Smithtown officials began the discussions.
"Zoning is like a sledgehammer . . . you're trying to pound very fine nails, and it's not the best tool," Smithtown Planning Director Frank DeRubeis said after a work session last week during which he presented the plan. "What this gives you is a little more precision."
The Smithtown Town board plans to set a November public hearing date on adopting the overlay district at the 1,400-acre park, which hosts about 1,300 companies employing more than 55,000 people.
According to the ordinance, most buildings within the industrial park would be permitted to add as much as 15 feet above the current height limit of 35 feet. Buildings within 1,000 feet of the Northern State Parkway or any residence could not increase to the 50-foot height, but structures along Motor Parkway could go up to 62 feet.
Two-story, above and underground parking garages would be permitted when used as an accessory to offices, hotels, banks and "non-nuisance industries."
Outdoor storage would also be allowed as long as it was screened from view.
The storage area could not be within 10 feet of the property line, and no material could be stored outdoors "in a manner contrary to that required by any other section of the town code," the proposal states.
Russell Barnett, director of the town Department of Environment and Waterways, said the ordinance protects neighboring homeowners and businesses concerned about adverse impacts from odors and dust. "They wanted to make sure that you're not going to allow -- under the guise of outdoor storage -- composting operations," he told the town board.
Creating the overlay district in Hauppauge requires an amendment to the town code, which had no provision for such a special zoning district, DeRubeis said. The amendment would pave the way for other overlay districts if they meet certain requirements.
"We already have people waiting in the wings for this," DeRubeis said, adding that he knew of at least three warehouse distributors who wanted storage space in the park.
Terri Alessi-Miceli, president of the Hauppauge Industrial Association Long Island, said in a statement, "The HIA-LI is delighted that the Town of Smithtown is moving forward with the creation of an overlay district for the Hauppauge Industrial Park, which is the largest park in the Northeast," adding that it "will give companies in the park the opportunity to expand, which can help create more jobs."
Jack Kulka, chief executive of Kulka LLC, a construction management company headquartered at the industrial park, said "the proposed revisions -- in conjunction with the new sewage-treatment system being installed by Suffolk County Department of Public Works -- will allow for greater densification in the usage of the facilities in the industrial park."
Kulka, a founding member of the Hauppauge Industrial Association Long Island, which represents businesses in the park, said the group worked closely with DeRubeis to develop the plan. "This will provide a simplified procedure to allow existing businesses to expand within the industrial park and attract new businesses," he said.
Rosalind Palazzolo, of St. James, said at last week's town board meeting that the expansion would create more traffic -- despite town officials pointing out that mostly warehouses would expand and not bring in additional vehicles.
"If you're going to do it in the Hauppauge Industrial Park, are you going to do it in Kings Park, too?" Palazzolo said. "I think that is opening up a can of worms."
ZONING OVERLAY DISTRICT
Facts on overlay districts per the proposed amendment to the town zoning code:
For an area to be designated as an overlay district:
-- There must be multiple lots and multiple property owners within the district boundaries delineated on the Town's zoning map.
-- There must be specific characteristics that set the area apart from the balance of the zoning.
-- There must be a public purpose(s) served by the designation of an area as an overlay district.
Notes on the new overlay district in the Hauppauge Industrial Park:
-- Most buildings within the industrial park would be permitted to exceed the current height limit of 35 feet to 50 feet.
-- Buildings within 1,000 feet of the Northern State Parkway or any residence could not increase to the 50-foot height.
-- Buildings along Motor Parkway could go up to 62 feet.
-- Parking garages both above and underground would be permitted as long as they did not exceed two stories and were used as an accessory to offices, hotels, banks and "non-nuisance industries."
-- Outdoor storage would be allowed if it were screened from view, contained by a fence not exceeding 6 feet tall or evergreen hedges at least 8 feet tall.
-- The storage area could not be within 10 feet of the property line, or exceed 10 percent of a building's gross floor area.
-- Lobbies, atria or similar spaces more than 1.5 percent of the building size will not be used in calculating the floor area, which is used to determine parking requirements.
Source: Proposed Amendments to Chapter 322 of the Town Code, Zoning, Sept. 25, 2013