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Smithtown’s Gyrodyne plan must wait for environmental review

Kevin McAndrew, a Cameron Engineering partner, presents the

Kevin McAndrew, a Cameron Engineering partner, presents the plan to the Smithtown Planning Board on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. Credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz

Former defense contractor Gyrodyne will have to wait up to a year for the results of an environmental-impact statement before Smithtown officials rule on the company’s application to subdivide its 62-acre property on the Smithtown-Brookhaven border.

That was the unanimous decision of the Smithtown Planning Board late Wednesday.

“There is significant potential impact not only to the Town of Smithtown but to our neighbors” in nearby municipalities, board chairman Conrad Chayes said.

Gyrodyne, a former helicopter manufacturer that now operates as a real estate company, submitted plans to Smithtown over the summer that envisioned a hotel, medical offices and assisted living at its Flowerfields property, a rough triangle formed by Route 25A, Mills Pond Road and the Long Island Rail Road tracks. It is one of the largest undeveloped tracts in western Suffolk County.

Staffers from Smithtown’s Department of Environment and Waterways will write the statement, analyzing an array of topics including impact to neighboring communities like St. James and Stony Brook, cultural sites and parks. Subdivision approval from the town would be an early step toward development there, though the company would still need site-plan approval from Suffolk County and the town for individual projects on as many as eight parcels.

Kevin McAndrew, a partner in Cameron Engineering, a Woodbury firm hired by Gyrodyne to help guide development, said that the company planned a “parklike setting” with nature paths and 23 acres of green space. Tenants of the development would bring 900 jobs and $3.5 million in annual tax revenue to local municipalities, he said.

Most of the Gyrodyne property is zoned for light industry. Some of the contemplated uses would require special exceptions from the Smithtown Town Board.

But some elected officials have come out against a project they say will bring few benefits to their constituents while clogging Route 25A and Stony Brook Road — busy Brookhaven roads to the east of Gyrodyne. Resources are already stretched by the growth in recent decades of nearby Stony Brook University, they say.

Legis. Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) has sponsored a bill, along with Legis. Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga), to fund a county appraisal of the property — the first step toward the county possibly purchasing and preserving the land. That bill is scheduled to go before the legislature Tuesday, but the proposal needs Gyrodyne’s consent to move forward. Company officials did not immediately respond to messages Thursday.

Although the Gyrodyne property sits almost entirely in Smithtown, no Smithtown Town Council members spoke at the Wednesday meeting, which started at 8 p.m. and remained crowded for nearly three hours.

Among roughly 100 residents in the audience, many from Brookhaven, speaker after speaker condemned the company’s plans and cajoled or begged Smithtown officials to stop development.

“Consider what you’re going to do to your community and what you’re going to do to our community,” Lee Krauer, a Brookhaven civic leader, told board members. “Nobody’s going to benefit from this except the people who own the Gyrodyne property.”

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