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Long IslandSuffolk

Babylon revises proposed code to address residents’ concerns

Changes in the mixed-use permit in the town’s small commercial districts would reduce by about two-thirds the number of eligible lots and would also limit building size to three stories instead of four.

Babylon Town officials will hold a hearing on

Babylon Town officials will hold a hearing on the revised code in the coming months. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Babylon Town officials are revising plans for a proposed mixed-use development permit in response to resident concerns about its impact on traffic, schools and neighborhood character.

Town spokesman Kevin Bonner said the revisions aren’t finished but already include reducing the allowed building size from four stories to three and limiting the areas where the permit could be used.

Babylon officials have said they hope the permit would catalyze the construction of apartment buildings with retail on the ground floor in small commercial districts. But some residents voiced skepticism and questions about the permit at a town board hearing in December.

Babylon officials sought to answer those questions in a mailer sent to those residents earlier this month. According to the mailer, only about 700 lots, primarily on commercial strips such as Route 109 and Montauk Highway, would now be eligible for the permit. More than 2,000 lots previously qualified, but town officials have since excluded parcels in large industrial areas where multifamily housing would be incongruous, Bonner said.

Of the 700 lots, only around 225 clearly meet the permit’s criteria, such as new developments fitting in with neighboring land uses, Bonner said.

The revised code also caps building heights at three stories, according to the mailer. That’s down from the 40-foot building height allowed under the earlier draft of the code, which would have made four-story buildings “theoretically” possible, Amy Pfeiffer, Babylon’s Downtown Revitalization director, told Newsday previously.

The mailer also addresses concerns that the permit would increase traffic or overcrowd schools, citing studies showing that residents of apartments typically drive less and have fewer school-age children than those in single-family homes.

John Lisi, president of the Daniel Street Civic Association in Lindenhurst and who expressed concerns about the permit at the Dec. 20 hearing, said Friday that the changes were a positive development.

“It’s a good first pass,” Lisi said. But “a lot more has to be discussed.”

Bonner said the town board will hold a hearing on the revised code in the coming months. No hearing is currently scheduled.

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