The Brookhaven Town Board has narrowly approved a zoning change to allow 200 retirement homes at a South Setauket golf course.
The 4-3 vote on Tuesday came after more than a dozen residents spoke against the project proposed by Islandia-based luxury apartment developer Heatherwood Communities, saying the homes would generate too much traffic. Republican Supervisor Edward P. Romaine and Democratic Councilwomen Valerie Cartright and Connie Kepert cast the dissenting votes.
The zoning change permits construction of a planned retirement community with town houses, apartments and detached houses on about 25 acres at the site, on Arrowhead Lane. A nine-hole, 45-acre golf course with pitch-and-putt greens would remain and serve as a buffer between the development and nearby houses, said David Sloane, an attorney for the developer.
During a public hearing that lasted more than two hours, Sloane said the retirement community would be restricted to people over age 55 and would generate less traffic than a development with single family homes that is allowed under the site's current zoning.
"This proposal is the least intensive use that could be developed on the site," Sloane said. "I really think the traffic generated by this development is minimal, especially during rush hour."
Leaders of groups such as the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce and the Terryville Fire District raised questions about the plan.
And Shawn Nuzzo, president of the Civic Association of Stony Brook and the Setaukets, said a poll of his members showed "overwhelming" opposition to the project. He said traffic from the development would endanger pedestrians crossing nearby state Route 347.
"This is not smart growth," he said. "You can't say something is smart growth when it's really old-fashioned dumb growth."
As part of the zoning change application, Heatherwood Golf agreed to donate 40 acres it owns in Manorville for open space, town officials said.
Cartright, who represents South Setauket, said the land donation offered "no community benefit to the residents in my district."
Councilman Dan Panico, who represents Manorville and sponsored the zoning change request, said he rejected suggestions that his district would benefit at the expense of Cartright's district. "The impression may be it's one community against another," Panico said. "It's anything but that. This board always comes together."