With many neighbors against a proposed zoning change, the Brookhaven Town Board is poised Tuesday night to consider allowing a developer to increase density in a Middle Island community.
Applicant KRS Birchwood Park Homes Inc. of New Hyde Park is requesting to increase the number of residential units for the proposed Highland Green development from 36 homes to 52.
The residential units would sit on 23.5 acres of land KRS Birchwood owns just north of Middle Country Road and Birchwood Park Drive.
"This is one piece of vacant land, and we would like it to stay that way," Martin Filler, 73, of Middle Island said to the town board at its May 7 meeting. Filler, a member of the Birchwood at Spring Lake Home Owner's Association, was among more than 300 residents at the meeting who challenged the rezoning application.
Several residents raised concerns about the proposed development's potential impact on air quality, traffic, and the deer and wild turkey that roam the area.
But Frank Piraneo, president of the homeowners' association, said he favors the zone change because he believes the area will be developed anyway.
He upset many local residents recently after he signed an agreement with the developer allowing the association to profit from future developers who use the excess capacity for Birchwood at Spring Lake's sewer treatment plant, owned by KRS Birchwood.
Piraneo said the deal could potentially be worth "thousands of dollars" and that "it's for the betterment of the community."
More than 700 families live close to the proposed project. Town officials say the area was rezoned years ago to allow 36 homes to be built at the site.
But if the board decides to approve the rezoning application, KRS Birchwood would construct 32, 2-bedroom and 21, one-bedroom units, all of which would range from 800 to 1,200 square feet. They have not decided what they will cost.
KRS Birchwood and town officials acknowledge traffic would be lightly impacted if the housing is added.
Currently, 25,000 vehicles travel Middle Country Road each day, while 2,000 vehicles drive on Birchwood Park Drive daily, officials said.
Some Birchwood at Spring Lake homeowners also criticized Democratic Councilwoman Connie Kepert, who represents Middle Island, for not meeting with them about the proposed zone change.
Kepert, who is lukewarm about the potential building project, said she has met with several association members on different occasions.
"If residents want the project, then it's fine; if they don't, then it's fine," the councilwoman said.
The board debated the proposed change of zone at the May 7 meeting, but voted 4-3 to extend public comments for 10 days, which ended Friday.