A crowd of nearly 200 people overflowed the Lindenhurst Village board room Tuesday night to mostly support a proposed new zoning law that village officials said would give them more control over development.
The crowd was drawn by the second public hearing on the creation of a proposed “floating zone.” Known as the Downtown Redevelopment District, the zone would be applied geographically and set parameters for proposed development that cannot be altered by a village zoning or planning board. Mayor Mike Lavorata has said the zone will allow for the village board to protect neighborhoods and prevent multiresidential projects from “popping up all over.”
Developer Tritec Real Estate of East Setauket wants to build a 260-unit multifamily rental complex across from the Lindenhurst Long Island Rail Road station.
The company first made their plans public at a 2015 village meeting, but because the village has no multiresidential zoning other than for senior-citizen housing, they have been unable to submit an application. The creation of a floating zone would allow Tritec to apply, although village officials stressed that it does not mean the project is approved.
During the nearly two-hour hearing, people leaned against walls, waited in the hallway and stood on the stairs of Village Hall. Several residents standing outside the board room yelled that they couldn’t hear the comments and some called for the hearing to be halted and held again at a larger venue.
Despite concerns about overcrowding, the board of trustees continued calling up those who wished to speak.
Of the more than three dozen people who spoke, most expressed support for the floating zone and Tritec project, saying it could attract young people to the village and help revitalize a sluggish downtown.
Those speaking in favor of the plan included development experts from Long Island and Legis. Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst) who said “the formula for every successful downtown has been housing.”
Resident Frances Rosato said she purposely bought her house in 2009 to be within walking distance of the train station.
“The last eight years I’ve watched this village turn into a ghost town,” she said. “I am tired of going to Farmingdale when I want a night out.”
Density “has been zoned out of suburban life and we need to zone it back in,” Rosato said. With the floating zone, she said, “the village is trying to protect the type of density and the amount of density but they are saying that the future is density.”
Business owners also voiced support. John Frenna, head of the village Business Improvement District and owner of a flower shop said he’s hopeful the Tritec project will rejuvenate downtown businesses. “I’m lucky my doors are still open,” he said.
Conor Hartnett, who is opening a bar and restaurant downtown, said he and his business partners have heard “a lot of fresh interest in bringing businesses to Lindenhurst specifically because of Tritec.”
Some residents said they supported the idea of adding housing but that the density and height are too much, and the parking too little.
The buildings can be up to 53 feet tall, according to the proposed zone, and the parking requirements range from 1.15 spaces for studio apartments to two spaces for three-bedroom units.
“I don’t want to see this as big as it is, said resident Garry Biggs, who turned to the audience and warned, “You should be terrified because this thing is moving like a freight train.”
The village will accept written comments on the proposed zone until June 20.