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Proposed development, transit-oriented zoning on tap at public hearing Tuesday

Amendments to the draft call for allowing uses

Amendments to the draft call for allowing uses at the Gyrodyne property, where developers are proposing a hotel, assisted living units and offices. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Smithtown officials will hold a public hearing Tuesday on a draft plan for land use and development in the town for the next decade or more.

The document, released late last year, makes 579 references to downtowns, attesting to planners’ and residents’ interest in redeveloping and rehabilitating hamlet commercial and civic centers that have changed little since the middle of the last century. It also recommends adding multifamily housing and rental units in some areas, but leaving mostly untouched the single-family home neighborhoods where more than 90% residents live.

"It’s really about making sure we have diverse housing options for all age demographics," town spokeswoman Nicole Garguilo said in an interview. "We are supporting the right development in the right locations."

Amendments to the draft approved this summer by the town board include a change to proposed zoning for the 13-acre New York Avenue school property in downtown Smithtown. Planners have said the site could be an important element of a new transit village district, accommodating residential, recreational and municipal facility uses. An initial proposal for maximum building heights of three stories or 40 feet was amended to limit height to 35 feet.

Another amendment strikes most of a proposal to rezone 105 acres of land in the Old Northport Road industrial area of Kings Park from light industrial to heavy industrial. The amendment would preserve uses like warehouses and outdoor storage but not permit most kinds of manufacturing.

Amendments also call for allowing uses at the Gyrodyne property near the Brookhaven Town border that support Stony Brook University and Stony Brook University Hospital and site design that maintains the character of the historic North Country Road corridor and Mills Pond Historic District.

Critics of the plan said recommendations for multifamily apartments in downtowns and the Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge were out of character for a suburban town.

"We see [the draft] as a love letter to density, to apartments, to height," said James Bouklas, president of the civic group We Are Smithtown. "This would transform the suburban quality of our neighborhoods."

The most dramatic proposals include transit-oriented zoning near LIRR stations allowing buildings up to 45 feet in Smithtown, 40 feet in St. James and 40 feet in Kings Park, areas now typically limited to 35 feet or two and half stories.

Also contentious is the plan's treatment of the $150 million Gyrodyne subdivision application, which includes proposed uses like a hotel, assisted living and office space on the former defense contractor's 75-acre site.

Joseph Bollhofer, a St. James lawyer who chairs Head of the Harbor Village’s Zoning Board of Appeals, faulted the document for what he said was inadequate attention to the traffic impact development would have on area roads. "These roads cannot support industrial or commercial development," Bollhofer said.

A 2017 traffic study commissioned by Gyrodyne found its proposal would put hundreds more cars on area roads daily but that traffic engineering improvements could speed some drivers through intersections that are now clogged.

Smithtown draft comprehensive plan hearing

7 p.m. Tuesday

Eugene A. Cannataro Senior Citizen Center

420 Middle Country Rd

Recommended, but not required to email questions and comments in advance to Town Clerk or Planning Department

Source: Nicole Garguilo

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