The owner of the last working farm in Babylon Town is asking the town to rezone the property to allow for the construction of hundreds of apartments.
A public hearing on the application is set for Monday, and a local civic association is expected to speak against the proposed rezoning.
Colonial Springs Farm owner Gustave Wade is seeking to build 264 rental apartments on 16.09 acres, with plans to build 25 single-family homes on another portion of the property.
Wade has been looking to redevelop his 32-acre Wheatley Heights property for more than a decade and has made multiple applications to the town for rezoning. The property is zoned for single-family housing; Wade is seeking Multiple Residence zoning, which would allow apartments.
In 2006, the town planning board approved 56 single-family homes for the site. But Wade, who has owned the property since 1983, said he sought to have part of the land rezoned for apartments, and as a condition the town asked him to preserve some farmland. Town officials said Wade sought to rezone the entire 32-acre property but was encouraged to apply for preservation through Suffolk County’s Farmland Committee.
He applied, and the county offered him $5.6 million for 15.2 acres. Wade rejected the offer, he said, because the town did not move forward with the rezoning. He reapplied, but the committee rejected the application in November.
Wade claims the rejection was due to documents submitted by a civic association that stated the land — zoned for residential use — was unsuitable for agricultural use. Christopher Black, president of the Concerned Taxpayers of Wheatley Heights/Dix Hills Inc., denied submitting such documents.
“We wanted that land preserved as farmland,” Black said.
The association maintains that Wade’s proposed project is too dense, would increase traffic and place a burden on the school district. Town officials said it could also hinder success of the nearby Wyandanch redevelopment, which already has two apartment buildings. Black said the community supports Wade’s original proposal to build 56 single-family homes.
“We’re not saying he cannot build,” Black said. “We’re saying 264 units is too much for the community to handle.”
Wade said he is just trying to help keep young people on Long Island by providing rental apartments and that his family has been a good neighbor.
“We’ve been the cornerstone of this whole entire community,” he said.
The association has hired an attorney and is asking the town for time to consult with experts and provide input.
The hearing is at 7 p.m. at Babylon Town Hall, 200 E. Sunrise Hwy. in Lindenhurst.
Wade’s wish list
228 one-bedroom apartments
36 two-bedroom apartments
6,475-square-foot community building
2 entrance booths
228-square-foot sewer pump station