The mansion on the Owl Hill property in Fort Salonga....

The mansion on the Owl Hill property in Fort Salonga. The developer of the 27-acre site has received the final major approval from the Town of Smithtown to subdivide the property and build single-family homes on 18 lots. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

The developers of Owl Hill, a historic Fort Salonga property, have the last major approval necessary before they can begin to build houses on it.

The Smithtown Planning Board on Feb. 7 voted 4-0 to grant Owl Hill Estates and Preserve LLC approval for the final site plan to subdivide the 27.6-acre property into 18 lots.

Once subdivided, the developer is planning to build single-family homes on each of the lots, as well as a 725-foot cul-de-sac that will provide access to several subdivision lots and a 1.9-acre recharge basin for stormwater runoff. More than 8 acres will be kept as conservation areas.

The developer now will file final site plan maps with the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, the County Clerk's Office and the county's Real Property Tax Service Agency, and can start construction if the county has no objections, according to Suffolk officials and Vincent Trimarco Sr., the developer's attorney.

County health officials sent a notice to the developer Dec. 29 saying its application was incomplete and no other information has been received since then, Suffolk County spokesman Michael Martino said in a statement Tuesday.

Trimarco said a project engineer for the developer is working on a response.

Owl Hill, located near the intersection of Fort Salonga and Sunken Meadow roads, is slated to be one of the largest subdivisions constructed in the Town of Smithtown in recent years, Newsday previously reported.

A mansion was built at Owl Hill in 1903 as a country home for Edmund Wetmore, a New York City patent attorney, according to state records. The family of Michael Yardney, an inventor who developed a catapult device for jet planes during World War II, later bought the home.

After the war, Yardney founded Yardney Electric, a company that made batteries for equipment astronauts used on the moon, Newsday previously reported.

In 2020, the developers bought the site from Yardney’s estate for $6.2 million.

The existing historic home, outbuildings and landscaping will remain on the property and it will keep its existing driveway access to Sunken Meadow Road, according to planning department records.

The planning board's approval came after some residents pushed back against developing the site.

In February 2021, the planning board recommended Smithtown's Zoning Board of Appeals approve a variance for the project that would allow the developer to alter environmentally sensitive land to build a road, recharge basin and several homes.

Neighbors of the property objected to the size of the subdivision lots and number of proposed homes. The Fort Salonga Association wrote a letter to planning board members in an unsuccessful effort to urge them to reject the plan.

Keith Macartney, president of the Fort Salonga Association, said in an interview last week he still would prefer to see the property preserved as open space.

“There’s so much development going on that the amount of open space is getting lesser and lesser over the years,” Macartney said.

Suffolk County Legis. Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) in 2022 sponsored a bill to order an appraisal of the site so the county potentially could buy and preserve it, but the developer didn't find any offers made for the property acceptable, Newsday previously reported.

Trotta said in an interview last week the county offered the developer $6 million for the property, but the offer was rejected.

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