Smithtown town residents, business owners and board members have expressed broad support for a plan to establish an overlay district in the town zoning code and designate the Hauppauge Industrial Park as the first such district.
An overlay district -- special-purpose zoning that provides more or less restrictive regulations in an area -- offers greater flexibility for development, said town planning director Frank DeRubeis.
"All municipalities basically seek to improve their local economy," DeRubeis said at a public hearing Tuesday where the plan was presented, adding that the park is among the largest in the country. "It is incumbent upon us . . . that we maintain this pre-eminence . . . and try to keep the park as an attractive economic resource."
Proposed amendments to the 1,400- acre park, which employs 55,000 workers, focus on parking, outdoor storage, building size and height.
Most buildings within the park would be permitted to rise to 50 feet -- 15 feet above the current limit -- and structures along Vanderbilt Motor Parkway could rise up to 62 feet.
Two-story parking garages would be allowed, along with outdoor storage as long as it is screened from view.
Large atriums and lobbies discouraged by the current ordinance due to parking calculations would be encouraged.
Frederick Eisenbud, a Commack-based zoning attorney, said he was "fully in support" of the amendment. He suggested that the town create more flexibility for an owner who couldn't store items, suchas steel beams, entirely in containers reasonably.
Jack Kulka, a founding member of the Hauppauge Industrial Association Long Island, applauded the town, which received input from the HIA.
"All the suggestions are viable and . . . if we went to further extremes, it would delay this," said Kulka. The overlay district, he said, is "a perfect example of what one can do . . . to optimize the look of the park."
But Rosalind Palazzolo of St. James said she was concerned about having outdoor storage, because "it can annoy other business owners, and aesthetically it's not as nice as if you have greenery around."
Councilmen Edward Wehrheim, Robert Creighton and Thomas McCarthy all said they were pleased by the proposal.
"We just can't move the park forward because it doesn't suit the businesses that are looking to relocate there as it is," said Wehrheim. "This plan is probably going to be the future of that park. It's going to be a huge asset to the Town of Smithtown."
The next steps include sending the proposal to the town Department of Environment & Waterways for additional review and for the Town Board to vote on it, said DeRubeis. He added that a separate zone change hearing will be held for the industrial park at a later date, which requires notifying all building owners within 900 feet of it.