Smithtown residents oppose industrial park zoning change

Yvonne Katz, 54, of Commack, who lives near Yvonne Katz, 54, of Commack, who lives near the Hauppauge Industrial Park, speaks at a Smithtown town board meeting on June 19, 2014 during a public hearing on whether to establish an overlay district in the park. Photo Credit: Newsday / Lauren R. Harrison

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Plans to allow taller buildings, parking garages and outdoor storage in the Hauppauge Industrial Park aren't going over so well with some neighboring residents in Smithtown.

Many of them expressed concerns over traffic, noise and safety at a recent public hearing on whether to establish the overlay district, which creates special-purpose zoning rules.

"We believe that these changes will keep our industrial park competitive with other areas and help retain our tax base," Frank DeRubeis, the town planning director, said of the 1,400-acre park, which employs more than 50,000 workers. "We should not have to . . . rely upon numerous variance hearings in order to get a building that all of us wanted."

According to the proposal, most buildings within the park would be permitted to increase height to 50 feet -- 15 feet above the current limit -- and the height of structures along Vanderbilt Motor Parkway could rise to 62 feet. DeRubeis said the change would be competitive with Huntington, Islip and Brookhaven towns.

Two-story parking garages would be allowed, along with outdoor storage up to 10 percent of the building size, provided it meets certain conditions. Large atriums and lobbies would be encouraged.

Though DeRubeis said the special-purpose zoning offers greater flexibility for development, Commack resident Yvonne Katz, 54, said the zone change will "destroy the value of residential land" if no mitigating measures are set to better protect neighboring residents.

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"By allowing huge outdoor containers, greater shipments, more trucks, heavier machinery, loading docks, greater noise disturbances in the neighborhood will occur," she said.

Skip Eichler, of Hauppauge, who lives directly behind a pod manufacturing company, opposes outdoor storage, to which he said he has already been subject.

"There is a constant noise problem with this; particularly in the summer," he said. "If they were to permit a parking garage within 50 feet of my home, I would find that very, very bad. So you have a difficult choice to make between additional, possible revenue and the quality of life of the residents."

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Thursday's hearing was based on the town board's motion to change the zoning of industrial park parcels from light industry to overlay, following two years of setting guidelines for overlay districts in the town code.

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