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Long IslandTowns

Apartments may replace Smithtown concrete plant

The site of Smithtown Concrete on Middle Country

The site of Smithtown Concrete on Middle Country Road in Smithtown, Monday, March 24, 2014. A proposed 260-unit apartment development could replace the concrete manufacturing company in Smithtown if the zoning board approves a request to change the area from light industry to garden apartment. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

A proposed 260-unit apartment development could replace a concrete-manufacturing company in Smithtown if the zoning board approves a request to change the area from light industry to garden apartment.

Home Properties Inc., headquartered in Rochester, has submitted plans requesting the zone change for Smithtown Concrete Products Corp., at 441 Middle Country Rd.

Smithtown Concrete co-owner Neal Spevack said his grandfather started the business in 1940.

"It started out as a sand pit," said Spevack, 62, of Village of the Branch. "Shortly thereafter they tried to do ready-mix."

Spevack said he planned to close the business, which occupies more than 22 acres and employs 10 other people, mostly due to the recession and increasing code restrictions. At its height, Smithtown Concrete produced 2 million to 3 million concrete blocks annually for projects such as the jail in Yaphank and structures in the Hauppauge Industrial Park.

The sale to Home Properties is contingent upon the zone change, he said.

Ten percent of the project -- which will include one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments with monthly rents estimated at $1,800 to $3,000 -- must, under state law, be dedicated to "workforce housing" defined as 130 percent of the area's median income. In Smithtown, the median income is about $104,000 a year for a family of four and $65,000 for a single individual, said Smithtown planning director Frank DeRubeis. Plans call for more than 500 parking spaces, garages and other amenities. The building would be four stories tall to allow for greenery and significant buffers between surrounding properties, DeRubeis said.

Houses abut the property to the west, while the town's Montclair Avenue highway yard is to the north and concrete manufacturers and outdoor businesses are to the west, he said.

The site will also include a new sewage treatment facility, which must be a minimum of 200 feet away from occupiable structures, officials said.

"We're taking what is effectively a real eyesore in the community, and we're going to try to turn it around 180 degrees," said DeRubeis, adding that the department will take an approach similar to what it did in the 1980s with The Galleria -- an 85-acre residential and commercial development on Terry Road.

Donald Hague, Home Properties' senior vice president of development, said the company is among the largest owners of apartments on Long Island, with 3,586 apartment units in 14 communities, such as Sayville Commons in Sayville and Devonshire Hills in Hauppauge.

Hague said he was attracted to the Smithtown property because of the location. "It's on a main road and has good visibility," he said. "It's in between the historic downtown and the [Smith Haven] mall. It will be convenient for our future residents in terms of living, working, shopping and recreational opportunities."

But Kevin Sconzo, 45, of St. James, who lives north of the property, said he is concerned about traffic. "Middle Country Road is already a nightmare," he said. "So with 520 more automobiles . . . what's that going to do to the traffic?"

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