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Smithtown to unveil comprehensive development plan in summer

Main Street in Smithtown. The draft comprehensive plan

Main Street in Smithtown. The draft comprehensive plan seeks to revitilize downtowns, control traffic and preserve open spaces. Credit: Barry Sloan

Smithtown Town planners hope to offer for adoption this summer the town’s first comprehensive plan in more than 60 years, replacing a piecemeal approach to development with long-term strategies to manage traffic, preserve dwindling open space and revitalize sleepy downtowns.

But a series of public presentations of the plan’s draft for each of the six hamlets completed last week highlighted long-simmering concerns over major projects — some underway, some discussed but not formally proposed — and some residents asked for revisions to the draft.

Smithtown

The plan broaches possible development of the 13-acre New York Avenue Smithtown Central School District property, but that remains a "lightning rod," said Tim Small, a retired engineer who heads Smithtown United Civic Association. The draft suggests a mix of residential and recreational or municipal uses, though community opposition quashed a 2017 proposal for hundreds of apartments there. Expect "at least that amount of pushback if indeed this were to move forward," Small said.

Commack

Residents and civic association officers are wary of a recommendation to rezone some of the area around Old Northport Road from light to heavy industry, legitimizing illegal uses such as outdoor storage and sand mining; consequently, the final draft is unlikely to make that change, planner Allyson Murray said. Traffic is also a concern on the north-south route comprising Bread and Cheese Hollow Road in the north, Town Line Road, and Commack Road in the south. Offering connection to the Long Island Expressway, the route draws heavy commuter and truck traffic they said would worsen with the planned opening of a BJ’s Wholesale Club at Commack Shopping Center.

St. James

There is long-standing opposition to a development proposal for the 75-acre Gyrodyne property near the Brookhaven Town border, which the onetime helicopter manufacturer says could accommodate uses like an assisted living facility, a hotel and medical offices.

The proposal has won support from town and some civic and business officials, partly because of the hope that an on-site sewage treatment plant could accommodate flow from the nearby Lake Avenue business district.

But many speakers in last week’s nearly three-hour session — including three trustees and zoning officials from Head of the Harbor Village, which sits to the north and west of Gyrodyne — said the town’s plan needed to address traffic that development would bring to area roads including Route 25A, Mill Pond Road, Lake Avenue, Moriches Road and village roads that drivers could use as cut-throughs.

Kings Park

Fort Salonga Association president Keith Macartney said the group’s biggest worry was that an organic waste processing facility could be built in the hamlet. Such facilities typically compost food scraps and yard trimmings. The draft says that a fully enclosed facility could be a solution to a lack of landfill space. It recommends continued study — town officials have already written sample legislation and are studying potential environmental impacts — and says the Old Northport Road industrial area "may be suitable for such a facility." But there are no applications for such a facility, Murray said.

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