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Smithtown releases environmental statement on senior complex

Town of Smithtown officials have released an environmental impact statement for the Uplands at St. Johnland, a proposed Kings Park senior housing development.

The 423-page report, posted last week on the town website, incorporates hundreds of comments for and against the 199-unit project on 50 wooded acres near Sunken Meadow and Old Dock roads. The document also weighs the implications of precedent-setting changes to the town code that would create a new category of zoning rules for “continuing care” retirement communities.

The document will form the basis for town board votes this spring on both matters. Those votes are expected after March 17, the close of public comment on the report.

Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said earlier this month that the town board is unlikely to allow the project to move forward when it votes. The votes, he said, “will be a springboard for us to put that matter to bed.”

The proposed new zoning category “allows for more than the town intended” and needs to be rewritten, Vecchio said. He has directed town planning director David Flynn to do that, a task Vecchio said would take about a month.

St. Johnland attorney J. Timothy Shea Jr., a partner in Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman’s Hauppauge office, declined to comment.

Vecchio and other board members have long maintained that the St. Johnland plan is too intense for what he called a “pristine 50-acre piece of land.”

Vecchio does, however, support a land swap that would put the St. Johnland facility on part of the grounds of the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center, now owned by New York State and part of Nissequogue River State Park. St. Johnland’s 50-acre parcel would then become part of a state greenbelt trail.

Demolition and cleanup costs have so far impeded that much-discussed swap. “It may be not possible at the moment, but I am sure that the Long Island state park commissioner will work very diligently to secure the funding to clean up the site,” Vecchio said.

“We are encouraged that the Town of Smithtown is committed to creating a zoning category that will finally allow for St. Johnland’s project to move forward, while facilitating the swap,” Kings Park Civic Association vice president Linda Henninger wrote in an email.

She called on New York State to fund “continued cleanup and ultimate reuse” of the parkland.

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