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Revised Smithtown assisted-living complex plan knocked

Developers of a proposed assisted-living complex in Smithtown have offered a revised plan intended to address neighbors' concerns that the structure would be too tall.

But the altered design failed to mollify most residents who spoke Tuesday at a public hearing before the Smithtown Board of Zoning Appeals. More than a dozen people said they oppose the project because of worries about noise, traffic and flooding.

Whisper Landing, the 136-bed facility proposed by Smithtown-based St. Johnland Development Group, would be built on a 12.39-acre site at Route 25A and River Heights Drive. Developers had requested a variance to allow construction of a 49-foot-high building -- 14 feet taller than normally allowed by the town zoning code.

Under the new design, the facility would be 35 feet high. St. Johnland also reduced the height of retaining walls, from 12 feet to 6 feet, to comply with town code. St. Johnland attorney Richard Scheyer said the changes were made in response to complaints at a town board public hearing last year.

But resident Bill Kearney, a leading opponent of the project, said the structure still would be too big and could cause floods because of slopes on the property. He added it would create too much traffic on Route 25A, which he said is the scene of many accidents.

"There's no traffic expert better than me -- I sit there in my living room and watch it every night," said Kearney, who lives on the road. "This is very detrimental to public safety."

Other opponents at the hearing mocked the developer's description of Whisper Landing as a "clubhouse" modeled after Adirondack Mountain resorts.

"I just can't get over the fact that they twice mentioned 'luxury hotel' in my neighborhood," Peter Yang said. "They're going to put that in my backyard -- in my front yard, I should say."

Scheyer and consultants for Whisper Landing said it would not generate much new traffic or noise and would blend in with the neighborhood.

Some residents spoke in favor of the proposal. Diane Carroll said she and other neighbors met with the developers to discuss the project and were satisfied with the new design.

"They have, by altering their plan . . . effectively addressed each and every one of our concerns," she said. "We really feel vindicated."

The zoning appeals board reserved its decision. Whisper Landing has a pending application for a special-exception-use permit before the town board.


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