A zoning application to build apartments on open land in Bayport is under attack from local residents who say the property was long ago protected by covenants dedicated to green space.
The developers of the 394-unit Fairway Manor apartment complex want to expand the development with an application to build 156 more apartments on 21.5 acres of open space near the east side of John Avenue south of Sunrise Highway.
They’re seeking a change of zone on the parcel from a mix of recreation and residential districts to an all-residential district, as well as a modification of deed covenants.
When the original 394 apartments were constructed in 1991, a covenant stipulated that 22 acres of the total 69.6-acre parcel be placed into the recreation district “for a nine hole par three golf course” or as land “in a semi state of undevelopment for the use of the people in our community,” according to town documents.
“A combination of the amendment of the covenants and a change of zone will allow us to develop more of the property,” said Donald Rettaliata, a Holbrook-based attorney for the application, as well as one of the principal developers. “It would change from approximately 21 acres of open space now and we would use approximately 8 acres of that property. There would still be 13 acres of open space.”
Blue Point Community Civic Association President Ed Silsbe said he and his civic group have been vocal opponents of the expansion plans, as the developers have submitted and withdrawn different applications for expansion since 1995 in violation of the covenant to preserve the open space.
Silsbe said under the current zoning, the land’s limit for development has been met. “The land has already contributed everything it can,” he said.
Rettaliata said that demand for more housing is increasing, and the expansion won’t have harmful impacts on the community.
“Changes in the covenants in the town of Islip are not rare things — they happen all the time. We’ve demonstrated that there won’t be any appreciable increase in traffic. The sewage treatment plant has to be expanded internally, but the building itself doesn’t. There will be more affordable housing and there’s a need for it,” he said.
Silsbe, however, said that the current zoning is in place to prevent the kind of overdevelopment that the expansion could bring.
“[My hope is] the board backs up from the point of approving this thing, reads the history and understands the only reason Fairway Manor exists in the first place is because of the open space,” he said. “The developer is saying he got nothing out of saving this land — but it would not exist without this land.”
The Islip planning board reserved decision on the application at a March 2 public hearing.
“The Planning Board had some questions for the applicant at the March 2, 2017 hearing, and Planning is waiting for the response from the applicant before bringing it back before that Board,” said town spokeswoman Caroline Smith in an email.
The town’s planning department has recommended approval, she said.