New zoning designation mulled in Brookhaven

Jim Gleason of East Moriches sits on the

Jim Gleason of East Moriches sits on the board of the East Moriches Property Owners Association and has lived between the village and New York City his entire life. (Sept. 21, 2012) (Credit: Andrew Kozak)

Residents sounded off this week on proposed changes to Brookhaven's zoning, including the creation of a "next-generation housing" zoning designation that is intended to spur walkable, mixed-use communities with affordable housing.

During a presentation to the town board, planning Commissioner Tullio Bertoli said "next-generation housing" would combat sprawl with "compact downtowns" served by mixed-use development.

Developers who apply for "next-generation housing" would be graded according to a scorecard. Points would be awarded according to criteria such as proximity to a railroad station or compliance with a local land use plan, Bertoli said.

Some residents said any pro-development policy would strain town resources.

"The town is already beyond sustainable development," said Jim Gleason, director of the East Moriches Property Owners' Association Inc. "We've already gone beyond where we should be."

"Give us the proof that this change is really good for our quality of life," said resident Diane Leniham of Port Jefferson Station.

Supporters said the next-generation housing would work to control development.

"I see this as an effective means [toward] an effective mixed-use community," said Tom Talbot of the Middle Island Civic Association.

Supporter Gail Lynch-Bailey said her grown son Brendan has been unable to move out of her Middle Island home because he cannot afford housing on Long Island. "We don't have to be threatened by next-generation housing," she implored the board.

The planning department has scheduled a public informational meeting Jan. 7 at 2 p.m. to present the proposed zoning changes. The hearings will remain open for comment until Jan. 22.

The board also held hearings on establishing a Carmans River watershed protection overlay district and revising the multifamily zoning for better public benefits. In addition, the board passed a resolution to increase fees for commercial and industrial applications to the planning, environment and land management departments, with councilman Tim Mazzei voting against the measure. The town expects to raise an additional $169,000 with the increased fees.

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