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Building heights eyed at Hauppauge Industrial Park

Smithtown Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio

Smithtown Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio Credit: Handout, 2011

Plans to lift height restrictions at the Hauppauge Industrial Park have slowed as Smithtown Town officials debate competing visions for the sprawling business complex.

Town officials agree taller buildings are needed to attract new business at the 1,400-acre park, which has about 1,300 companies employing more than 55,000 people. Buildings can be no more than 35 feet high under current limits.

While Supervisor Patrick Vecchio favors raising the height limit to 50 feet, some councilmen want to go higher -- to 62 feet.

Though Vecchio said a small number of buildings could be allowed to exceed the limit, he argued last week that the facility's parking, traffic and sewage systems would be strained if buildings throughout the complex -- one of the nation's largest industrial parks -- were allowed to exceed four stories.

"I think there should be some combination thereof, because there's a certain amount of traffic . . . and there's a certain amount of sewage the industrial park could take," Vecchio said. "You have to reach a happy medium."

Vecchio announced in January 2012, at a meeting of the Hauppauge Industrial Association, which represents businesses at the complex, that height restrictions would be lifted this year. New height limits have yet to be adopted.

Councilman Robert Creighton, a fellow Republican who is trying to unseat Vecchio, said he is developing a plan with councilmen Edward Wehrheim and Kevin Malloy that would raise height restrictions to 62 feet, or six stories, with parking garages to handle additional traffic. "We are essentially planning for the future," he said. "We expect the sewer issues to be addressed as the proposed buildings are going up."

At a town board work session last week, town planning director Frank DeRubeis recommended raising height limits to 50 feet and warned that Creighton's proposal would require a time-consuming study of the expansion's potential impact on the environment.

Asked later about DeRubeis' comment, Creighton said he doubted "there's going to be any more wait time than what he [DeRubeis] proposes." He said he had favored allowing buildings up to 80 feet but settled on 62 feet as a compromise.

Vecchio and Councilman Thomas McCarthy said they favor allowing some industrial park buildings as tall as 80 feet. But they said the town should adopt the 50-foot limit before seeking to further loosen height restrictions.

"If we can take a first step and come in under the radar of an environmental-impact statement, then we should go for that," McCarthy said in an interview. "It would help the whole town, the schools . . . One, it brings taxes; two, it brings jobs."

Hauppauge Industrial Association officials could not be reached for comment.

DeRubeis and town environmental protection Director Russell Barnett are to submit comments on the plans before the town board takes action.

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