Neighbors petition against apartment complex

A proposal to build a $6-million, 56-unit apartment A proposal to build a $6-million, 56-unit apartment complex for seniors in Bayport has drawn fierce opposition from neighbors. At least 300 residents have signed a petition against the plan. Photo Credit: handout

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A proposal to build a $6-million, 56-unit apartment complex for seniors in Bayport has drawn fierce opposition from neighbors.

At least 300 residents have signed a petition against the plan, which has a hearing scheduled Thursday before the Islip Town Planning Board.

Jim Tsunis, owner and managing member at The Northwind Group, of Hauppauge, has requested a change of zone from industrial to residential on 4 acres at 337 and 347 McConnell Avenue and extending to Oakwood Avenue, where he wants to build five, 35-foot high buildings, to be called Bayport Gardens. The complex would also include an underground sewage treatment facility.

Tsunis, who last year received approval to build another senior complex, the $40 million, 148-condominum Bayport Meadows, on Sunrise Highway in Bayport, said Wednesday the proposal fills a housing stock void and would be better than an industrial building.

"A lot of seniors that live on Long Island, after they sell their homes, they don't want to buy a house, they'd rather rent and save their money," he said.

Bob Draffin, president of the Bayport Civic Association, said he shares what he described as the "nearly unanimous opposition to the plan. . . . This really seems to be a grass roots uprising against the proposal."

Draffin said Tsunis had not addressed the association, but emailed him to discuss the plan late Tuesday. "Forty-eight hours before the meeting -- it's a little late for that."

Tsunis, in an interview, said, "My priority is to meet with the neighbors on McConnell Avenue. After I've addressed their concerns and realigned the plans, I am then ready to make a presentation to the civic organization."

He said he's already made one key change: incorporating a 1896-era Victorian home on the parcel as a club house.

Christine Cusack, who lives next to the site, said Tsunis allayed her concerns about traffic and aesthetics. The added tax revenue would benefit the school district without adding students. "The short answer is I think this is a more desirable project than other possibilities," said Cusack, 42.

Married couple Matthew and Maureen Feddern, who have lived for 14 years next to the site, began circulating the petition about two weeks ago out of concern about traffic and environmental pollution. They say the apartments would change the neighborhood's character.

"We would see the sewage plant in our backyard," said Maureen Feddern, 45.

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