Smithtown residents question plans for athletic center

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Smithtown residents have expressed concern about the potential visual impacts of a proposed multisport complex that would include five outdoor fields, a 60-foot swimming pool, training facilities and medical and sports rehabilitation offices in Kings Park.

Dozens crowded a board of zoning appeals meeting Tuesday night to challenge Farmingdale-based developer Prospect Sports LLC, which requested 16 variances, including waiving a requirement that outdoor lighting not exceed 18 feet, in order to build 55 lighting poles over the sports fields at 60 feet each at the site, 350 Old Northport Rd.

Prospect also wants to increase building heights from 35 to 60 feet and reduce the minimum number of required parking spaces by almost 1,500.

"If I wanted to live in New York City, I would go to New York City," said Christine Dabrowski, 60, a graphic designer and Kings Park resident. "I don't want to see a building behind my house."

She said she is generally in favor of the plan -- "anything to keep the kids busy," -- but she is hesitant about the development's large scale.

"It's state of the art -- that's amazing," said Caroline Harris, 38, a kindergarten teacher and Kings Park resident. "My son is a baseball player. But we're not looking to house the Mets, are we?"

Residents also cited concerns about noise pollution, tailgate parties in the parking lot, and maintaining the buffer zone's vegetation.

Prospect's attorney, J. Timothy Shea Jr. of Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman LLP in Hauppauge, said a 40-foot depression in the ground where the facility would be constructed would make the 60-foot building and lights appear closer to 20 feet tall.

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"You're going to be 40 or 50 feet up in the air with fencing and trees," Shea told an estimated 50 to 75 residents. "The parking lot lighting is going to be in a hole, 25 to 30 feet from the nearest property line, and your houses are not on the property line -- they're set back 20 or 30 feet."

He also noted the land is zoned as "light industrial," and potential alternatives, such as a warehouse or truck stop, could be more disruptive.

Zoning chairwoman Adrienne Giannadeo said it could be a month before the board rules on the variances. Prospect has already submitted to the town board a special-exception request, which is pending environmental review.

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