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Legislative committee approves appraisal for Gyrodyne property

The 62-acre Gyrodyne property near the Smithtown-Brookhaven border

The 62-acre Gyrodyne property near the Smithtown-Brookhaven border is one of the largest undeveloped tracts left in western Suffolk County. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

The Suffolk County Legislature’s Environment, Planning and Agriculture Committee on Monday approved appraisal of the 62-acre Gyrodyne property near the Smithtown-Brookhaven border, a step toward possible county purchase and preservation of the land.

The bill authorizing appraisal, sponsored by committee chairwoman Legis. Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), is the first step in the county’s land acquisition process. It moved out of committee with a 4-0 vote, with one member absent, and will go before the full legislature Nov. 21.

Hahn has proposed buying about 41 acres of fields, woods and a pond with county open-space funds.

“I support this,” said Legis. DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville). “I can’t believe some of the potential plans for this site. I can’t see how the area can handle that much traffic.”

Gyrodyne, a former helicopter manufacturer that now operates as a real estate company, submitted plans to Smithtown over the summer that envisioned a hotel, offices and assisted living at its Smithtown-Brookhaven property, a rough triangle formed by Route 25A, Mills Pond Road and the Long Island Rail Road.

Gyrodyne president Gary Fitlin could not be reached Monday. In a statement last week, COO Peter Pitsiokos said that under the company’s plan, 30 acres of the site would remain open space. He did not address the proposed legislation.

The property is one of the largest undeveloped tracts left in western Suffolk County.

Company representatives are scheduled to appear before the Smithtown Planning Commission on Wednesday for a subdivision application. Subdivision of the property could increase its value for Gyrodyne, which announced plans in late June to wind down operations and sell its assets by the end of 2018.

Hahn and other officials representing the area have warned that development could increase congestion on already crowded roads to dangerous levels, threaten ground water and add to demand for services like fire protection.

“We are struggling,” Hahn said in an interview last week. “There are safety problems that would be exacerbated by this kind of project.”

Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine said in a statement Monday that “The Town of Brookhaven is adamantly opposed to any development plan that would create more traffic for Stony Brook Road, which is only one of two ways for accessing the State University at Stony Brook.”

A Suffolk County budget official did not respond Monday to questions about money available in the open space fund, which is funded by a quarter-cent sales tax.

With Carl MacGowan

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