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Smithtown proposes restrictions on coastal development

Smithtown will discuss adopting stricter rules for coastal

Smithtown will discuss adopting stricter rules for coastal development, such as along the bluffs of Long Island Sound. Photo Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

The first proposed changes to Smithtown’s coastal management policies in 30 years would restrict development in areas likely to be affected by sea level rise and encourage limited commercial development of the Nissequogue River Corridor near Edgewood Avenue. 

Town planners on Tuesday posted on the town website substantial portions of a draft update to the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan, commonly known by the initials LWRP. The eight-part document, if adopted by the town council, will guide the town’s approach to erosion and flooding, protection of natural resources and water quality management. A public workshop is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday  at the Smithtown Library, to be followed by a formal hearing in coming months and possible adoption in late summer.

"The draft maintains all of the concepts and objectives of the original program, but clarifies the intent, and recommends projects and changes to the code that will enable the Town to better implement the program,” principal planner Allyson Murray said in an email. 

A number of proposals from the original LWRP appear in the document, including one that recommends creating an acquisition program for environmentally sensitive land and one that encourages institutional uses on some of the former grounds of the Kings Park Psychiatric Center that are now part of Nissequogue River State Park. That proposal could be the subject of renewed attention after New York State legislators last month passed a bill requiring creation of a master plan for development of the park. 

The development restrictions would require that sea level change be considered when siting, designing or approving projects on the waterfront. Murray said that update would have little immediate impact because most town land is at relatively high elevation. 

They would require property owners in sensitive areas such as the Long Island Sound bluffs to move homes threatened by erosion when “practical.” It would permit building sea walls and other erosion-control structures only as a last resort. 

Smithtown’s LWRP does not apply directly to property owners in the town’s three villages, but the villages cannot issue permits conflicting with the LWRP for work in certain areas along the Nissequogue River, Stony Brook Harbor and the Long Island Sound. 

The draft recommends that town officials petition state environmental officials to ease restrictions on Nissequogue River Corridor that now forbid any expansion in square footage of commercial property there. That change could allow a new restaurant in the area, Murray said. 

Another update would give the town planning director authority to approve small changes to waterfront area buildings, such as adding a front porch. Those changes now need town council approval. 

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