Business

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Aerial view of Indian Hills Golf Course, where developers want to build 98 townhouses.

A proposed development at Indian Hills Golf Course in Fort Salonga is once again drawing criticism and the ire of a community. A public hearing scheduled for Sept. 18 will open discussions on the environmental impact statement for the construction of 98 town houses. 

In August of 2018, the Town of Huntington’s planning board issued a positive declaration to the developers, Hauppauge-based Northwind Group. The environmental impact statement review is the next step of the approval process. 

The upcoming presentation will focus on how potential development would impact water quality of local watersheds, the area’s steep slopes, coastal erosion zones, traffic and other issues.

John Hayes, president of the Fort Salonga Property Owners Association, said the proposed development is massive and will negatively impact local roadways and surrounding wetlands, among other things. 

“We’ve been opposed to the development, it’s not something the community wants,” he said.

The project, dubbed the Preserve at Indian Hills, is a 55-and-over clustered housing development. In addition to the 98 town houses, the project also includes a new fitness center with an expanded clubhouse alongside the existing golf course.  

Previously, the association asked town officials to place a moratorium on new developments in the Crab Meadow Watershed area, which includes Indian Hills. It came after town officials released a draft of the Crab Meadow Watershed Plan, done by GEI Consultants. 

The study’s goal was developing a community-driven stewardship plan that highlights best practices in the future management of the watershed area, according to a March 2018 TBR News Media article. It also focused on evaluating the environmental conditions of the land around the Jerome A. Ambro Memorial Wetland Preserve in Fort Salonga.

“The study showed that the watershed area is built out to its zoned density, we believe there shouldn’t be close to 100 homes built there,” Hayes said. 

The proposed development has been a decisive topic in the Huntington community for close to three years. Over the years, the developers have tried to change zoning for the property from 1-acre single family to open space cluster district, in the hopes of building homes on the property. They also changed the initial plans from building 108 units to 98. 

“We expect public comment on our application which is permitted within our current zoning,”   Jim Tsunis, managing member of The Northwind Group said in a statement. “Our professionals will address all concerns during the hearing on Sept. 18 and the extended public comment period.”

The president of the association said they remain skeptical of the development and plan to attend the upcoming planning board hearing. 

“We will be there to challenge their findings and we’ll counter their points,” Hayes said. 

Residents can review the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the town’s website under the Planning and Environment Department page: www.huntingtonny.gov/indian-hills-deis-july2019. 

After the public hearing, the town will be accepting public comments through Oct. 18 either online or letters can be mailed to: Huntington Town Hall, Department of Planning & Environment (Room 212), 100 Main St., Huntington, NY 11743.

Following public comments, the next steps for the development would be a final environmental impact statement and a possible preliminary subdivision hearing.

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Photo by PJCC

RIBBON CUTTING

The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting for Port Bistro and Pub on Aug. 27. Owners Christine and Bob Nyholm cut the ribbon surrounded by members of the chamber, Port Jefferson Village Mayor Margot Garant, family, staff and friends.

Located at 201A Main St. in Port Jefferson, the restaurant is located next to Starbucks in the space previously occupied by Brewology.

According to its website, the family-friendly restaurant offers classic dishes and specializes in old world authentic foods and recipes. Port Bistro and Pub also offers catering for parties and other special events.

Hours are Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight. For more information, call 631-828-2550 or visit www.portbistroandpub.com.

Stock photo

Save the date! Suffolk One-Stop Employment Center will present a Job Fair at the Smithtown Library, Main Branch, 1 North Country Road, Smithtown on Friday, Sept. 13 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Representatives from over 25 companies are scheduled to attend including AFLAC, Attentive Care, Certified Laboratories, CIRCOR Aerospace, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, Core Business Technology Solutions, Contract Pharmacal Corporation, CulinArt, East/West Industries, Express  Employment Professionals, Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, First in Service Staffing, HEAP, Home Instead Senior Care, Life’s WORC, Lloyd Staffing, Marcum Search, Nature’s Bounty, New Vitality, NY Life Insurance, Office Team, Right At Home, SCO Family of Services, Suffolk County Water Authority, Shoprite, Supreme Screw Products, UCP of Suffolk, Uncle Giuseppe’s Marketplace, US Postal Service and Well Life Network.

All are welcome and no registration is required. Bring copies of your resume and dress to impress! For more information, call 631-360-2480.

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Thousands gathered for the last summer concert Aug. 27., but the chamber was denied entry to promote Photo by Greg Catalano

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) and legislative challenger Gary Pollakusky have crossed swords over the final summer concert in Rocky Point Aug. 27.

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker is running against Republican Gary Pollakusky to represent the 6th District. Photos by Alex Petroski

Members of the Rocky Point Sound Beach Chamber of Commerce said they were restricted from entering the concert venue, featuring Mike DelGuidice and Big Shot, to promote the chamber and their own businesses. Pollakusky is the executive director of the chamber, which was established last year.

Chamber members took to local Facebook groups to decry how they were allegedly treated, saying they were turned away by aides from Anker’s office. In a video posted to the chamber Facebook page, Pollakusky talked to Anker through an aide holding a phone, which had Anker saying she had already told the chamber president no, and said, “Police would be there if you are not off the premises in the next hour.”

Both legislative candidates have put the onus on the other for why the chamber was denied access.

Rocky Point VFW Post 6249 is the main sponsors and promoter for the summer concert series alongside the Suffolk County Legislature. Post Commander Joe Cognitore said he had told the chamber members they were invited and had written a letter to that effect. 

The letter, dated July 22, invites the chamber to manage and invite business in the community to the summer concert series, reading, “In keeping with our commitment to our downtown revitalization grant we look forward to supporting our business community.”

In the past, local businesses have been allowed at the annual summer concerts.

“The only permission required was that of the event organizer.”

— Gary Pollakusky

He added the VFW post does not get involved in politics and runs the concert for the benefit of the veterans and community.

“We’re apolitical,” Cognitore said. “The chamber, civic, they meet at the post. I’m part of all of them because we’re involved in all parts of the community.”

Charles Todaro, the treasurer of the chamber, confirmed the letter dated July 22, which said it gave permission to the chamber to come set up tables at the event. When they arrived, he said, they were denied entry by Anker’s staff, along with the threat of calling the police.

Todaro said the grants that supplies funds for the concert series are meant to help promote shopping in local businesses. He called the reason they were denied access “political,” but said it wasn’t because Pollakusky is running against Anker.

“We are shocked and appalled by Sarah Anker’s political actions because the chamber had written permission from the concert holder to take part in the event,” Todaro said. “We had all the wheels in motion, and we got this very last minute threat not to come.”

While Cognitore confirmed he had given the letter to the chamber, Anker said she had not learned of such a letter until after the concert. She said her challenger had called last minute Monday, Aug. 26, the day before the concert, to say he and chamber members would be attending. She said she told Pollakusky no over the phone, it being too last minute and with thousands of attendants there would be no room for tables. She added she told him he and his chamber members could come as attendants rather than as vendors.

“We have the concerts to bring people to downtown Rocky Point, not so much to bring the vendors into the concert,” she said. “That’s following the grant requirements for the cultural omnibus funding that funds these concerts.”

Pollakusky said they received contact from the VFW the day before the event asking them to place a courtesy call to the legislator’s office. They received a call the next day at 12 p.m. saying they were not allowed inside.

“There’s been a precedent set for years for the North Brookhaven Chamber to attend, there’s also been a precedent set for businesses to attend,” the chamber president said. “The only permission required was that of the event organizer … I’m very disappointed that Sarah would use her office to prevent the chamber and other local businesses from taking part in a community event funded from taxpayer’s money.”

“We have the concerts to bring people to downtown Rocky Point, not so much to bring the vendors into the concert.”

— Sarah Anker

Anker said Pollakusky came to the concert grounds at St. Anthony of Padua R.C. Church in the early afternoon and that he “harassed my staff in a confrontational manner that I had to call police and church security.”

Pollakusky referred to the video posted to the chamber page regarding the chamber’s interactions with Anker’s staff. 

“Our community and our businesses were harmed,” he said.

Both political candidates accused the other of politicizing the situation.

Jennifer Dzvonar, who had been president of the North Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce before it disassembled in 2017, wrote on Facebook that her chamber had a table at each concert where then members were invited to attend. Dzvonar is now president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce. 

Anker said that while the North Brookhaven chamber had attended previous concerts, they were allowed a single table to advertise members and chamber events. The RPSB chamber was looking to set up multiple tables. She added that previously with the old chamber, details of how and where they would set their tables was established months in advance.

If anything, it’s a rocky start to the upcoming election season.

Photo from Northwell Health

Huntington Hospital has received a two-year designation as an Antimicrobial Stewardship Center of Excellence (AS CoE) by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA). The hospital is one of only 35 hospitals nationwide to receive this recognition.

More than 700,000 people die worldwide each year due to antimicrobial-resistant infections. The AS CoE program recognizes institutions that have created stewardship programs led by infectious disease (ID) physicians and ID-trained pharmacists who have achieved standards established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC core elements for antibiotic stewardship include seven major areas: leadership commitment, accountability, drug expertise, action, tracking, reporting and education.

Dr. Cynthia Ann Hoey and Dr. Adrian Popp, infectious disease specialists, worked closely with pharmacists Agnieszka Pasternak  and Nina Yousefzadeh to ensure Huntington Hospital met the rigorous criteria to be recognized by the IDSA.

“We are honored to have received this prestigious IDSA recognition,” said Dr. Nick Fitterman, the hospital’s executive director. “We are committed to fighting antimicrobial resistance through our comprehensive training and educational outreach program with all of our infectious disease specialists and pharmacists. The antimicrobial stewardship program will improve patient care and preserve the integrity of current treatments for future generations.”

Pictured from left, Nina Yousefzadeh,  Dr. Cynthia Ann Hoey, Agnieszka Pasternak and Dr. Nick Fitterman.

A rendering of the planned Heatherwood Golf & Villas in South Setauket. Rendering from Town of Brookhaven Planning Board

The proposed apartment complex project on the property of the Heatherwood Golf Course in South Setauket will not receive a tax benefits package after the Brookhaven Industrial Agency rejected a proposal that would cut property taxes on the land by $3.76 million over 13 years at a hearing Aug. 21.

Also included would be $2,854,000 in sales tax exemptions and $420,000 in mortgage recording tax exemptions. In total the developers would see savings of more than $7 million.

The decision proved to be a small victory for some area residents who have been against the project since its inception. They were concerned that the proposed tax breaks could negatively affect local school districts and development would increase traffic congestion at the intersection of Route 347 and Arrowhead Lane.

Representatives for Heatherwood said at the meeting that they could not move forward with development without the tax breaks.

Salvatore Pitti, president of the Port Jefferson Station-Terryville Civic Association, said the notion of developers abandoning the project was wishful thinking.

“We never wanted it from the beginning,” he said. “The entire community has been against it.”

The proposed project dates back to 2014 when it was brought up to the Town of Brookhaven zoning board and was approved of a crucial zone change that allowed for apartments on the property. As a part of the approval, the town board required the property owner to donate 40 acres of land to the Manorville Farm Protection Area, remove a billboard at the golf course and construct a sidewalk on the east side of Arrowhead Lane.

“The zone changes already occurred,” Pitti said. “We’ve already accepted the fact that it will be developed [eventually].

“Why do you need tax breaks if you don’t have the money to build it? It came off as them being more greedy.”

–Salvatore Pitti

In 2018, the Planning Board approved the proposed plans for the company to build on nearly 26 acres of its more than 70-acre property. The project, dubbed the Heatherwood Golf & Villas, will be a 200-unit senior apartment complex catering to individuals 55 and over.

The planned project would reduce the 18-hole golf course to nine holes to allow developers to build the apartments and would supposedly bring more revenue to the golf course.

IDA members questioned the reason Heatherwood needed tax breaks to move forward with the project. Heatherwood said that the project would create six permanent full-time jobs, though IDA members said it wasn’t enough jobs to grant it the benefits package.

Herb Mones, chair of the Three Village Civic Association land use committee, was shocked when he first heard that Heatherwood was looking for tax breaks.

“I was like ‘You gotta be kidding me,’” Mones said. “It wasn’t enough that they got the zoning approval, but now they need tax breaks — at some point enough is enough. It is corporate greed.”

Mones argued that the project would forever affect the surrounding communities.

“It adds to the over development, we lose open space and a golf course,” he said. “…We are happy the IDA turned them down.”

Mones along with Pitti wasn’t buying that the project would be abandoned if Heatherwood didn’t receive the tax benefits package.

“There is no possibility that they will not develop that land after they got the zone change, they are going ahead with the project,” Mones said. “It will yield a gold mine for the corporation. We believe this will bring no benefits to the community.”

Despite, the IDA rejecting the package, Pitti said he wouldn’t be surprised if Heatherwood broke ground on the project in the next few months.

A representative from Heatherwood did not return messages requesting a phone interview by press time.

 

Photo from Briana Taylor

CHECK PRESENTATION

On Aug. 14, Bikers Against Heroin (BAH), a Medford-based organization committed to education and awarenss of the heroin problem on Long Island,  presented a check in the amount of $4,000 to Mercy Center Ministries in Patchogue.

The money, which was raised during a Run From the Needle bike run fundraiser on July 14, will benefit Mercy Center’s three local Suffolk shelters serving 16- to 23-year-old  homeless young women and women with children. Both organizations strive to make their communities stronger and safer by providing essential services to people who find themselves in crisis.

Pictured from left, Scooter, sergeant at arms/event coordinator BAH; Linda Alagna, BAH treasurer; Briana Taylor, executive director of Mercy Center Ministries; Lisa Goodfield, BAH president; and Lisa Ann Bouchard Cordovano, BAH vice president.  Photo from Briana Taylor

For more information, call 631-790-5963.

Bee Witched Honey at the Port Jefferson Winters Farmers Market. File Photo by Giselle Barkley

Those who are trying to grow it and sell it on Long Island have a new way to try and get their business on the map.

Suffolk County announced that through the Choose LI – Local and Independent initiative, local businesses can request a free “Choose LI” or “Take the Pledge” sign to display at their farm stand, farmers market, fish market, brewery, cidery, distillery or vineyard. The signs, printed on white corrugated plastic measuring either 18 × 24 feet or 30 × 40 feet, can be requested online through the chooseli.org website. To date, more than 46 local businesses have signed up, according to a county press release.

“Our local farmstands, fish markets, vineyards and breweries are the backbone of our community and we want residents to continue to take advantage of these locally grown and harvested products,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) in a release. 

The Choose LI initiative asks local residents and visitors to choose goods from local and independent farmers and fishermen. Suffolk is asking residents to “Take the Pledge” and commit to spending 10 percent of their weekly food budget, approximately $17.60, on local and independent food goods.

The website includes a searchable and interactive map of all the farmstands, farmers markets, fish markets, vineyards, breweries, cideries and distilleries in Suffolk County

The searchable map currently lists 25 farmers markets, 115 farmstands, 33 breweries, 4 distilleries, 2 cideries, 33 fish markets, 51 vineyards, 21 restaurants selling local oysters and 49 flower retailers. Anyone who visits the website can interact with the map, finding the exact address, hours of operation, phone number, and website of the business they are looking for. If your business selling Long Island produce is missing from the county map, please contact Choose LI at chooseli@suffolkcountyny.gov.

Photo by Heidi Sutton

RIBBON CUTTING

The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting for The East End Shirt Company, 3 Mill Creek Road, Port Jefferson in celebration of its 40th anniversary on Aug. 16. Family, friends, staff, customers and chamber members were present for the momentous occasion.

GPJCC First VP Stuart Vincent presented owner Mary Joy Pipe with a plaque in honor of “East End Shirt Company’s outstanding contributions and commitment to the Incorporated Village of Port Jefferson and the business community.”

On behalf of the Village of Port Jefferson and Mayor Margot Garant, Trustee Kathianne Snaden presented Pipe with a proclamation that described her as a loyal, dedicated, hardworking merchant partner who has been a member of the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce for many years as well as an active participant of the Port Jefferson Retailers Association and is always serving the greater good of the community.

“We are very proud to have you as part of our village and here’s to 40 more,” said Snaden. The celebration continued on Aug. 17 with a block party along Mill Creek Road featuring games, music, face painting and a car show by the Long Island Volkswagen Club.

For more information, call 631-473-2093 or visit www.eastendco.com.

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Rendering of the Brockport apartment complex. Construction is expected to be complete in December 2020. Photo from the Gitto Group

As one of the latest apartment complex project in Port Jefferson inches closer to construction, another apartment complex has received tax breaks from an IDA.

Last month, the Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency approved an economic benefits package, which includes a 10-year payment in lieu of taxes, to the apartment complex expected to be built out of the current Cappy’s Carpets building, to be known as The Brockport. Construction is expected to begin this fall. 

The site plan calls for a three-story structure with a total of 44 one-bedroom units and two two-bedroom units. The $16.5 million project headed by Port Jefferson-based The Gitto Group, will have stores, office spaces and a restaurant on the first floor and apartments on the other two floors. 

The current taxes on the property, which was once occupied by Cappy’s Carpets and a boat storage lot are approximately $35,000 annually, according to Rob Gitto of The Gitto Group. The 10-year PILOT would see taxes increasing to $99,183 in the first year and then gradually escalate until the last year when it reaches $213,360. According to Gitto, the retail portion of the

property will be fully assessed as it is not part of the IDA program. 

“We are planning to commence the construction on the site within the next 30 days and we anticipate to be completed with the project by December 2020 — all of this is dependent on what type of winter we have,” Gitto said. 

Paul Casciano, Port Jeff Superintendent of Schools, made it clear he and the district are not against the planned project. 

“We just had concerns and questions,” the superintendent said. “As a district we have to do our due diligence to see if there is any potential impacts — this is what we do. It doesn’t mean we are against the project.”

As part of the response to the SEQR referral for the project in November 2018, the district sent in a letter outlining their questions and concerns. 

With the construction site close to the Port Jefferson high school, the district had concerns over access to the driveway on Barnum Avenue. Also, due to the  close proximity to the site there were concerns of potential dust, fumes and noise from the construction. 

Though questions were raised about how many students this particular apartment complex will bring, Casciano said it’s routine to ask how new developments will impact the district. Other complexes in the village have offered more two-bedroom options. The Shipyard complex has 18 and The Hills has seven. The upcoming complex on Main Street will have two.

The district sent the same letter for the July 17 Brookhaven IDA public hearing.  

Casciano reiterated that they support the project, adding the information is important for them to know for a variety of things including future planning of the district. 

“I think this project will benefit us [the Port Jeff community],” he said. 

Responding to concerns from the community about the impact of construction on the area, Gitto said they do not anticipate any major issues relating to the construction of the complex. 

“The project does not include any road improvements that would require us to close down the road,” he said. “There may be some minor work that needs to be completed by the utility companies, but that would really be it. We are the owners of the adjacent office building to the north [414 Main St.] and the mixed-use property located to the south of the subject property [464 Main St./50 Barnum Ave.] which will enable us to stage any construction equipment or materials without impacting the surrounding areas. The early stages of the project will include typical noise associated with a construction project.”

The development group, which also owns and manages The Hills and the Barnum House apartments, said Brockport will have a minimal impact to the student population of local school districts.  

“The two properties [the Hills and Barnum House] combined have 104 apartments [one- and two-bedroom units] and our records are showing that we only have two school-aged children within these 104 units,” Gitto said. “The majority of our units are one-bedroom apartments which typically do not work well with families with school age children.”  

Once construction on The Brockport is completed, Gitto said they are estimating the one-bedroom units to be around $2,650 per month and the two-bedroom units to be $3,800 per month. The building will be more than 65,000 square feet and have approximately 2,700 square feet of retail space.