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Brookhaven rezones a stretch of Montauk Highway to stop sprawl

Brookhaven Town rezoned parts of a five-mile stretch of Montauk Highway on Tuesday night despite objections from many residents.

Town board members rezoned stretches of the highway in Moriches and East Moriches from commercial and retail to residential, mixed use and office space. All told, about 1,200 parcels, covering 1,176 acres, were rezoned.

But town officials also agreed to six exceptions for homeowners who argued among other things that their property values would suffer as a result of the action.

For months, town officials have worked to change the designation of Montauk Highway from Moriches to Eastport to prevent commercial development and preserve its rural character.

About 20 homeowners spoke out against the rezoning at Tuesday’s special meeting at Town Hall in Farmingville.

Moriches farmer Ellen Godzieba, 61, said she owns a 20-acre parcel where she and her husband raise pigeons. She says rezoning her property from agricultural to another designation would cut the value of her property in half.

East Moriches homeowner John Leuthardt said the pair of homes he owns along Montauk Highway were an investment he hoped to use for rented office space. He told the board the change of zone there from office to residential would cost him money.

“It’s not prime real estate. No one would want to live there,” said Leuthardt, 51.

He and Godzieba were granted exemptions by the town and will continue to meet with town officials.

Other residents felt the zoning was good for the community.

“It’s a good plan. It improves the general character and eliminates commercial zoning,” said Jim Gleason, director of the East Moriches Property Owners’ Association Inc.

Town Councilman Dan Panico spearheaded the rezoning initiative. He called the successful legislation “difficult” and “laborious,” adding, “but some of the most worthwhile work a town could offer residents.”

Eventually, town officials want to rezone the entire five-mile stretch of road from Moriches to Eastport which, until Tuesday night, was zoned to allow for more than 500,000 square feet of retail and commercial space.

The plan approved Tuesdaymostly centers on the downtown districts of Center Moriches and East Moriches, where zoning would have allowed for nearly 400,000 square feet of retail and commercial space. A total of 55 separate public hearings were heard at the meeting.

More public hearings on similar rezoning proposals in Eastport and Center Moriches will be held in September.


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