The developers of a proposed Smithtown assisted-living facility that has drawn the ire of nearby residents have altered their plans in an apparent attempt to win support for the project.
The height of the planned 136-bed Whisper Landing facility would be reduced, and the structure would be set farther away from nearby roads, Smithtown Town planning director Frank DeRubeis said Tuesday in an interview. The developers also propose to revise plans for an on-site sewage treatment facility, he said.
The building's height, proximity to roads and nearby homes, and possible stench from the sewage plant were among concerns cited by residents in September at a public hearing on the proposal. The original proposal called for a 49-foot-high building that would exceed the town height limit by 14 feet; it was unclear what the new height would be.
Because of the changes, the town might hold a second public hearing on the proposal. At the September hearing, residents complained the facility would add traffic and trample their neighborhood's tranquil scenery by cutting down dozens of trees.
DeRubeis said the new plans appear to resolve some of the town's concerns, but he added, "There's still some issues that we have to address."
He said revised plans call for hooking Whisper Landing to an expanded county sewage treatment plant in Kings Park. Plant expansion plans are incomplete.
St. Johnland Development Group Llc wants to build Whisper Landing on a 12.39-acre parcel on state Route 25A near River Heights Drive. The project requires a special exception permit from the town board and a height variance from the board of zoning appeals. Richard Scheyer, an attorney for St. Johnland, did not return a call seeking comment.
Smithtown resident Bill Kearney, an opponent of the facility, said he had not seen the revised plans but expressed skepticism. He questioned whether there is sufficient consumer demand for assisted-living beds and said the property is a poor site for such a facility because it is too close to private homes. "I think it's a bad idea from the get-go," Kearney said. "The height is ridiculous."
Town officials have said they might have no legal grounds to reject the original proposal because the project meets the town's minimum criteria for assisted-living facilities on residential properties.