State, town work on plans for more Stony Brook on-campus housing

The Stony Brook University campus on Oct. 22,

The Stony Brook University campus on Oct. 22, 2013. (Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara)

State and Brookhaven Town officials said they are developing a plan to build student housing at Stony Brook University through a partnership with private developers.

The initiative, modeled on arrangements between other colleges and builders, was drawn up in response to complaints that the state university lacks enough dormitory beds, forcing many students to live off-campus.

University officials have said the college has on-campus beds for less than half of its 24,000 students. Off-campus housing issues have drawn the scrutiny of Brookhaven Town officials, who last year launched a crackdown on landlords who rent out to students, but without proper town permits.


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Residents of neighborhoods near the university have voiced concerns about traffic, noise, trespassing and other nuisances they say are related to students who live in off-campus homes.

Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine backed public-private campus housing last week in his annual State of the Town address. In an interview, he said developers would build dormitories on campus, own them for about a decade while renting rooms to students, then transfer the units to the university.

"What I hope to achieve is to develop more dorm rooms on campus that are available to students," Romaine said. "I hope to diminish the development of illegal off-campus housing . . . and offer more choices to students."

In a statement, university spokeswoman Lauren Sheprow said college officials have had "constructive conversations" with town leaders and community groups, "where we discuss many ideas, including opportunities to partner with private developers. It is a complex problem that requires more than one solution."

The school is currently building two residence halls with 759 beds and a 60,000-square-foot dining facility, she said. The project is not related to the partnership proposal.

Assemb. Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) said partnership plans are in the "early stages" of development, adding the plan "will probably take a number of years." He said he hopes to secure $200,000 in state funds to help town officials formulate a proposal.

"Clearly an important part of this is that the university has to build more on its own campus," Englebright said. "It's an 800-acre campus, and I think there is clearly room."

Bruce Sander, a leader of the Stony Brook Concerned Homeowners civic group, applauded the housing partnership.

"I think it's an excellent idea," Sander said. "This could really be a home run."

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