Islip Town Board rejects apartment units proposed for 3.77 acres in Bohemia

An image of the entrance at 1330 Smithtown An image of the entrance at 1330 Smithtown Ave. in Bohemia that leads to the site of the proposed Bohemia Gardens complex. Photo Credit: Google, 2012

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The Islip Town Board rejected an application to build 34 apartment units in Bohemia after several neighbors turned up at the zoning hearing in protest.

Eugene DeNicola, the lawyer for Bohemia Gardens, said the project aimed to build 34 rental apartments on 3.77 acres on Smithtown Avenue near Union Street. The property was originally zoned for 20 town houses in 1991 and now the developers want to demolish the town houses to build rental apartments.

Kevin Shapiro, who lives adjacent to the site in what neighbors say is a bucolic part of the neighborhood, told the board "this change would have a litany of negative consequences for my neighbors and my family." He added, "The additional housing units will certainly lead to a decrease in quality of life for us. It will change the very character of my neighborhood."

Neighbor Lisa Muller said the rental nature of the new development would also affect the community, which she said has a "country feel." "Having renters move in is just going to bring down the neighborhood," she said.

Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt said at the Thursday hearing that the application appeared to have problems. "It sounds like it would affect the character of the neighborhood," she said.

DeNicola protested, saying local residents need apartments in the area. "The number of apartments in Bohemia is quite low," he said. "These apartments provide housing to young couples."

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The boardmembers declined to make a motion on the application, thus ensuring its failure to receive the requested zoning change.

The board also unanimously approved applications for Sayville Ford to reduce the amount of landscaping at its site on Sunrise Highway, and for 26 senior apartments to be built on the historic Macy Estates site at Islip Avenue and Montauk Highway in Islip hamlet.

While one resident said she was worried about increased traffic from the proposed Macy Estates development, others spoke in support of the plan to preserve the historic mansion on the grounds.

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"The developer has worked with us and he's come up with a plan," said neighbor Anthony Valone. "My personal opinion is this is probably the best plan for the site."

Councilman Steve Flotteron said of the project, "This is a great location for it because of transportation and it preserves a historic building's character."

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