Smithtown seeks changes at Kings Park industrial park
Smithtown officials are mulling plans to phase out businesses in the Kings Park industrial park that neighbors say cause problems such as traffic, noise and sickening odors.
Parallel strategies include taking property owners to court for alleged zoning-code infractions and new zoning designed to compel companies to change their ways, town officials said.
The town board is expected Tuesday to authorize legal action against several companies suspected of zoning-law violations.
The evolving plans take a carrot-and-stick approach to a problem that has frustrated town officials for decades: Businesses such as concrete and asphalt contractors, equipment storage facilities, landfills, sand mines and trucking companies that operate on properties not zoned for those uses.
The companies are along Old Northport Road, unofficially known as the Kings Park industrial park.
Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said most of the town's attempts to shutter the businesses were blocked by court rulings dating to the 1980s. New zoning is needed, he said, to allow some businesses to continue but with tighter restrictions, "so we can go about enforcing the rules."
But the rezoning proposal, which has not been released, was blasted by residents at an April 25 town board meeting. They said it would reward companies that flout town law.
"We are in a fight, a struggle . . . We do not want any new zoning," said resident Lisa Inzerillo. "It's unacceptable to us."
The rezoning plan, which would affect up to 126.4 acres belonging to about 10 business owners near Lawrence Road, would allow light industry but forbid heavy industry, solid waste storage and other "obnoxious" uses, said town planning director Frank DeRubeis. "We're trying to eliminate the noise and smell factor," he said.
Smithtown attorney Vincent Trimarco, who represents several of the industrial businesses, said his clients generally favor the town initiative.
"Maybe we can reach some kind of accommodation that benefits everybody," he said.
The industrial business owners are generally receptive to the rezoning initiatives that allow them to stay in business.
But Inzerillo and other residents want the town to shut down the businesses.
Last year, they formed the Old Northport-Lawrence Road Task Force, which has about 150 supporters, said member Larry Shaw.
Vecchio and DeRubeis met for two hours last week with task force representatives in an attempt to sell the town's plans.
Shaw said he was not swayed. "The idea of rezoning this for any reason makes no sense to me at all," Shaw said. "No one has given me any idea why this would help."
But it's unlikely courts will allow Smithtown to close the businesses, said Councilman Edward Wehrheim. The town hopes the companies agree to abide by new zoning, he said.
"I just don't think it's possible to shut all those businesses down," he said. "I know the residents want that, but I just don't think it's possible."