The Suffolk County Planning Commission is scheduled Wednesday to take up once again a subdivision application for the 75-acre Gyrodyne property in St. James.
Commissioners have oversight duties because of inter-community issues related to the former defense contractor’s plans for such uses as a hotel, assisted living facility and offices at a mostly undeveloped North Country Road site near Brookhaven Town and Head of the Harbor Village. Leaders of those communities vehemently oppose the current plans for development of the site, which they say would overwhelm the area’s rural character.
"It would be hard to find a worse location for an office park," Head of the Harbor Mayor Douglas Dahlgard said in written testimony submitted to the commission before the hearing. "I hope that the Commission with an open mind will find the preservation of the Gyrodyne land as an open space park a far better alternative."
Commissioners in 2017 overwhelmingly approved the subdivision the company needed to develop the property for those uses. County planning staff have again recommended approval, but only after the commission considers changes to Gyrodyne’s conceptual plan and information from Smithtown’s environmental review of the application that was not available when commissioners first approved the plan.
The town environmental impact statement, finished in March, revealed changes that include eliminating a planned restaurant and conference center along with other smaller changes to the proposed development mix.
"Also, there is an unaddressed matter of the potential impacts to Stony Brook Harbor," county planning staffers wrote. That body of water is among the healthiest on the North Shore, although it has been harmed by nitrogen runoff and could face additional impacts from a sewage treatment plant proposed for the northeast end of the Gyrodyne site.
Staffers stopped short of requiring a change to the proposed location, but said consideration should be given to moving it to an area where any released material would take longer to migrate to the harbor.
"The community has been very vocal in its opposition to this project," said James Bouklas, president of civic group We Are Smithtown. "It’s the wrong size, it’s at the wrong place and it will forever transform our community."
Supporters, however, have said a treatment plant would remove more nitrogen than the septic systems now in place and that Gyrodyne’s proposed uses are more desirable than the industrial uses that the company can already pursue.