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Kings Park planning board delays hearing on zoning change for garden apartments

Zoning attorney Vincent J. Trimarco Sr., at the

Zoning attorney Vincent J. Trimarco Sr., at the Smithtown planning board public hearing on Wednesday, July 15, 2015, asks the board for an adjournment, saying that he had not received a copy of the planning department's recommendation of denial. Credit: Newsday / Christine Chung

A controversial Kings Park zone change petition has been delayed, to the dismay of residents who had gathered to oppose it.

Planning board members voted unanimously to adjourn the Wednesday evening hearing to an early fall date yet to be determined. The hearing was kept open to accommodate residents who wish to make future statements, Planning Board chairman James Ehrhardt said.

The applicant, Thomas Gesuale Sr. of Northport, is seeking to rezone roughly 36 acres on Lawrence Road from light industry and residential to garden apartments.

Gesuale's zoning attorney, Vincent J. Trimarco Sr., detailed the plan to construct between 200 and 250 cooperative apartments on the property. The remainder could become a nine-hole golf course or a passive park, he added. He then requested an adjournment, saying he had not received a copy of the Planning Department's recommendation of denial, provoking a few jeers from the audience.

Smithtown Planning Director David Flynn stated that the document, which was read at the hearing, was sent the previous week.

The memo detailed several opinions why the site is unsuitable for high-density residences. The parcel isn't near a downtown and lacks access to public transportation and community facilities, Flynn wrote. The proposed zoning is inconsistent with the surrounding neighborhood's zoning, and would make it challenging to develop adjacent properties, he added.

The property is filled with buried solid waste, raising health concerns. The waste has been dumped on the site for several years, wrote Flynn, an issue which has involved litigation.

In September 2014, the property's owners, including Ann Gesuale, Thomas Gesuale Jr., John Gesuale, and associated trusts and businesses, were served with a town court-ordered preliminary injunction barring them from storing heavy equipment and debris on the site.

Kings Park Civic Association Vice President Linda Henninger said the group has an obligation to protect residents' health and presented the board with a list of nine reasons for opposition.

The Suffolk County Planning Commission must also weigh in on the application because the property is within 500 feet of Nissequogue River State Park. In April, the commission postponed a decision until further study.

Though the board was authorized to render a decision without the commission's action, Ehrhardt said he was reluctant to do so.

Sean Lehmann, the civic association's president, said it is only a matter of time until the applicant finds an alternative use for the site.

"I just think it's the same song and dance from this property owner," Lehmann said. "The community would work with them. It's just that they'll have to come to that realization themselves."

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