Daily Point

Smithtown addiction facility may get zoned out

When Charlie Murphy’s Residence opened in 1942, Alcoholics Anonymous had only existed for seven years and its instruction manual, originally titled "Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered From Alcoholism," had only been in print for three.

But in 2016 the famed Fort Salonga facility, which housed and rehabilitated thousands of Long Island addicts over eight decades, burned down.

And since the time Charlie Murphy’s was established, the neighborhood around it has grown up.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, investors hoping to again use the site for an addiction treatment facility will appear before the Smithtown Board of Zoning Appeals, opposed by a local civic association and neighbors fighting to stop it. The proposed facility is for-profit; Charlie Murphy’s was a not-for-profit.

The neighborhood is residential, both in zoning and character. As long as the treatment facility was operating, and holding 12-step meetings for patients staying there and locals needing a meeting, its use was grandfathered in.

But opponents led by the Fort Salonga Association, which is asking residents to send form letters to elected officials that can be found on its website, say when the rehab burned and stopped operating for more than 12 months, the site lost its right to a zoning exception.

Additional arguments are that the proposed 50 beds of the new facility would double the old facility’s census, and that the rehab would increase traffic, endanger children at a school one-third of a mile away, and bring "violence" and "the dregs of society."

Vincent Trimarco Sr., the attorney for John Bonlarron and William Alvaro, the buyers looking to acquire and reopen the site, told The Point he may argue the use was never abandoned. And, Trimarco points out, similar uses like halfway houses, which this could become instead, are largely exempt from zoning bans under state law.

In previous similar battles, like a rehab in Blue Point proposed by the Seafield Center that never opened and one for eating disorders in Glen Cove proposed by Monte Nido that did, the outcry in the recovery community in favor of the planned facilities was loud.

In this case, it has been more muted.

And elected officials and addiction-treatment advocates say the difference that has them holding their fire and doubling down on due diligence is that they don’t know the operators’ work the way they did Seafield and Monte Nido, which have strong track records here.

Those officials and advocates say they’d like to know more. Opponents would certainly like to say more, and perhaps even hear more, too.

And once more, on Long Island, anxious residents will spell "donnybrook" with the letters "B.Z.A."

— Lane Filler @lanefiller

Talking Point

Crypto politics

New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ wallet might be ruing his decision to convert some salary payments into cryptocurrency, what with the plunge in that market in recent days.

But Adams appears committed to promoting the electronic, blockchain-based money system even on pain of a short-term loss, which got The Point wondering whether Long Island’s county executives have had any similar flirtations with crypto in this brave new world.

Spokespeople for Suffolk’s Steve Bellone and Nassau’s Bruce Blakeman said neither county executive had plans to be paid in Bitcoin or the like. Neither had Nassau’s former top official Laura Curran, but it turns out there has been something of a common crypto denominator with Adams in New York City: Brock Pierce.

Pierce, the former child actor and 2020 Independence Party presidential standard-bearer, is also a crypto enthusiast on whose private jet Adams flew last year to Puerto Rico — seen as a tax haven of sorts for crypto magnates (an Adams spokesman has said the then-mayor-elect paid for the flight).

Pierce has also donated to Curran and Bellone, according to state campaign finance filings. And he talked crypto with both Democrats last year.

That included a Suffolk "roundtable discussion" in the spring with local elected officials and business and labor leaders, in which Pierce did a briefing on the future of crypto and how local governments should plan for it.

Pierce also made his pitch to Nassau leaders in the fall of last year, as Curran was getting into campaign season. No big crypto policies appeared to come of it.

Curran went on to lose to Bruce Blakeman, and though the Republican has reshuffled the office on other fronts he doesn’t appear to be jumping on the crypto train yet, either.

Spokesman Chris Boyle said Blakeman has not met with Pierce and won’t take his salary in crypto.

— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

Their silence is golden

Credit: PoliticalCartoons.com/Dave Whamond, Canada

For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/nationalcartoons

Quick Points

Comfort zones

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is backing a Republican-sponsored bill in that state that would bar public schools and businesses from inflicting "discomfort" on white people during lessons or training about discrimination. Oh my, now who’s getting triggered and reacting to micro aggressions?
  • Texas Republican Rep. Michael McCaul said Russian President Vladimir Putin "smells weakness" in President Joe Biden’s approach to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Funny, McCaul never said anything about what Putin smelled while Donald Trump was president.
  • New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has registered to become licensed as a substitute teacher as part of an effort to deal with a COVID-19-created teacher shortage. Now there’s a hands-on governor.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders said President Joe Biden cannot count on his support for "almost any compromise" with Sen. Joe Manchin on a social spending and climate package. OK, as long as Sanders understands that guarantees the failure of almost any compromise.
  • Arizona Democratic leaders voted to censure Sen. Kyrsten Sinema for her role in killing voting rights legislation. But what they and lefties in the right-to-center state don’t realize is that what doesn’t kill Sinema will make her stronger.
  • Inflation continues to plague the United States. And here’s the thing: It might not be President Joe Biden’s fault, as the White House says, but it’s his problem.
  • Like a bat out of hell, he flew high over rock ‘n’ roll, took the words right out of our mouths on many occasions, reminded us that two out of three ain’t bad, and established that paradise could indeed be found by your dashboard light. RIP, Meat Loaf.

— Michael Dobie @mwdobie

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