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Smithtown board OKs Hauppauge overlay district; no signal interference for HBO

HBO's Hauppauge Communications Center at 300 New Highway

HBO's Hauppauge Communications Center at 300 New Highway in Hauppauge. The photo is from 2015. Credit: Google Earth

A portion of the Hauppauge Industrial Park will now allow increased building heights and outdoor storage.

Smithtown Town Board members on Tuesday unanimously approved the zoning change for an overlay district in an effort to attract more business to the park.

HBO officials had asked the board to delay its vote after the cable TV network raised concerns that taller buildings could interfere with its satellite operations, which send signals to distributors around the world.

The overlay district's initial map drew boundaries to allow parts of buildings to be in the district and parts out, said Councilman Thomas J. McCarthy. Planning officials revised the boundary lines, excluding 300 New Highway, which HBO officials in a late June report had identified as a potential source of interference if the height was increased.

The original boundaries had half of the 300 New Highway property within the overlay district, the other half outside of it. Buildings outside the district boundaries must be no higher than the current 35-foot limit instead of the 50 feet allowed in the new overlay district.

"The proper way to have a zoning district is along property lines, not through centers of buildings," McCarthy said.

Representatives of HBO could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The Hauppauge Industrial Park houses the network's only communications center, which delivers content to distributors that transmit it to about 122 million HBO and Cinemax subscribers worldwide. The center, which was built in 1983, also supports the network's HBO NOW streaming service.

The 1,400-acre industrial park is home to more than 1,300 companies employing 55,000 people in the manufacturing, construction and services industries, according to the Hauppauge Industrial Association.

Association president Terri Alessi-Miceli said in a news release the zoning change for the park, previously zoned for light industry, "will promote investment, bring new and innovative development and encourage job growth in the park."

Councilman Edward Wehrheim said he and Councilman Edward Creighton favored allowing some buildings to be as much as 62 feet tall because the current structures weren't suitable for research and development, pharmaceuticals and banking companies.

McCarthy said he was relieved the zoning district was finally moving forward.

"I'm glad it's done. I just hope it brings additional business and expansion to the park to increase the tax base and jobs."

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