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Parviz Farahzad

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Town of Brookhaven Planning Board will conduct a full site review of Stony Brook Square before representatives come before them again Dec. 17. Photo by Rita J. Egan

The Town of Brookhaven Planning Board has once again tabled a decision regarding the future of a Stony Brook shopping center.

“It went under construction, and it turned out it wasn’t going to work and raised traffic and safety issues.”

— Tim Shea

Representatives for Stony Brook Square LLC, the developer of the shopping center across from the train station on Route 25A, are scheduled to return in front of the board Dec. 17. In September, the Planning Board issued a stop work order as a result of field changes from the approved construction plans including widening of a driveway, two buildings’ locations shifting by a few feet, and the addition of 19 parking stalls at the rear of the property.

At the Sept. 17 Planning Board meeting, board members suggested Stony Brook Square’s president Parviz Farahzad and his representatives meet with the Three Village Civic Association to discuss local residents’ concerns. This meeting took place Oct. 15.

The civic association has opposed the field changes and Farahzad’s decision to not install a low-nitrogen septic system on the commercial property.

Farahzad’s attorney, Hauppauge-based Tim Shea, said at the Nov. 5 Planning Board meeting that even though numerous professionals and town officials had previously reviewed the site plans, once construction got underway the new engineer and general contractor realized changes needed to be made.

“It went under construction, and it turned out it wasn’t going to work and raised traffic and safety issues,” Shea said.

Michael Williams, of R&W Engineers, who was brought on board after construction began, said commercial trucks were having difficulty entering the site, often jumping the curb. The original plans called for the entranceway to the center to be 24-feet wide. He said field changes widened the driveway to 30 feet, which was approved by New York State Department of Transportation. Due to this change, one building’s footprint was moved 6 feet to the west and the shift affected another building which was also moved.

Three Village Civic Association board members George Hoffman, 1st vice president; Laurie Vetere, 2nd vice president; and Herb Mones, land use committee chair, attended the Nov. 5 Planning Board meeting.

Hoffman said when residents discussed the development with Farahzad at 25A visioning meetings, the developer agreed that the buildings by being closer to 25A would lend a downtown feel and help to slow down traffic.

“We’re really concerned about the walkability of our community.”

— George Hoffman

“We’re really concerned about the walkability of our community,” Hoffman said. “This was not designed for trucks coming in and out.”

Vetere spoke out on the loss of land banking to 19 additional parking stalls. She said residents whose properties abuts the shopping center in the rear should have been notified of the proposed changes in advance of previous Planning Board meetings. Vetere encouraged the board members to hear from those neighbors before making their decision. The civic association supports land banking instead of the 19 spots because it will insulate the nearby neighbors from the noise of slamming car doors, chirping alarms and nighttime conversations in the lot.

She said if any leniency is shown to the developer in regard to these field changes, the board should ask him to install the low-nitrogen septic system as originally approved, which reduces a percentage of nitrogen in waste water. In a previous interview with TBR News Media, Farahzad said he was hesitant to install a system that he feels is still too new for commercial use.

“It would be a nice legacy for him to leave to the community,” Vetere said.

Shea said his client is likely willing to consent to keeping the land banking. As for the distance of the buildings from Route 25A, he said while the few feet won’t be noticeable to someone walking, it will matter to a truck driver who will be able to enter and exit safely.

Three residents in attendance asked that the Planning Board allows the developer to continue construction as soon as possible. One was Poquott resident Seth Goldstein who has already signed a lease to open a Jersey Mike’s Subs in the shopping center. He said he felt the expansion of the entranceway was a positive change.

“There is a need for that access and egress for trucks to go in and out of that location,” Goldstein said, adding he felt that the walkability is actually improved by the buildings’ new positions.

The board’s decision was held until Dec. 17 despite Shea asking for an earlier hearing. Vincent Pascale, Planning Board chairman, said the board will require two weeks or more for a full site plan review and to go through prior testimony.

Construction can resume on the site of the future Stony Brook Square shopping center. Photo by Rita J. Egan

The future of a Stony Brook shopping center has been put on hold until the Town of Brookhaven’s Planning Board members get some answers.

At the town’s Sept. 17 planning meeting, representatives for Little Rock Construction and its president Parviz Farahzad were seeking approval for modifications that were made to site plans to Stony Brook Square, a shopping center under construction across from the Stony Brook train station on Route 25A. A stop work order was issued after town inspectors discovered discrepancies between the site plans and what has already been completed on the construction site.

“It’s so hard to believe that these kinds of major changes would be made to the site plan without any type of authorization or approval.”

— Herb Mones

Among the modifications were the changing of two building locations, handicap accessible parking, cross access and grading.

Farahzad’s attorney, Hauppauge-based Tim Shea, contacted Three Village Civic Association representatives Herb Mones, chair of the association’s land use committee, and George Hoffman, 1st vice president of the association, Sept. 24 to go over the modifications, according to Mones.

“It’s so hard to believe that these kinds of major changes would be made to the site plan without any type of authorization or approval,” Mones said in a phone interview, adding in the past the town, civic association and community members provided input for the location’s plans.

Mones said a major objection from members of the civic association is the entryway changing from the initially approved 24 feet to 30. This adjustment means the largest building on the property is shifted 5 feet to the west from the original plans and closer to the historic home on the 3-acre site that Mones said during 25A visioning community meetings residents felt was essential to preserve and feature in the project.

At the Sept. 17 meeting, Farahzad’s engineer Michael Williams said his office was contacted earlier this year by the applicant to review claims by the site contractor that there were issues with Americans with Disabilities Act compliance in front of the building. He said the cross slope through the handicap accessible parking and access aisle was too steep pursuant to federal regulations. To alleviate the issue of the ADA ramp’s cross slope, the elevation of the site closest to the driveway entrance was changed, and the site was flattened, which increased the size of the entranceway.

Mones said the civic association also has issues with an area that was designated for land banking now being used for 19 parking spots. He explained that land banking allows for an area to be landscaped until it is proven a business owner needs it for parking.

He said while he appreciates the town was alerted to the changes and put a stop work order on the construction, he believes it still poses problems.

“Is it going to send a message out to developers that you can willy-nilly make changes in the approved site plan and then ask for forgiveness?”

— Herb Mones

“I think the town has a challenge before them,” Mones said. “Is it going to send a message out to developers that you can willy-nilly make changes in the approved site plan and then ask for forgiveness?”

Mones said representatives from the civic association would be attending the Oct. 1 Planning Board meeting.

“We think that the town should adhere to the site plan that was developed, and since the project is far from being completed, it shouldn’t be difficult for [the developer] to adhere to the site plan that they originally planned on with the town, with the town planners and with the community,” Mones said.

The Planning Board members put their decision on hold until the Oct. 1 meeting, and Farahzad was advised to bring updated site plans Oct. 1 and to consult with the Three Village Civic Association about the modifications.

“I would like to see a plan that shows what’s existing — not proposed — and what we had previously approved and what has changed,” said assistant town attorney Beth Reilly at the Sept. 17 meeting. “Because when you look at this it looks like nothing is out there, but that’s not what our inspectors found when they did a stop work order on this job. I feel like the plans still don’t match what we’re being told.”

Farahzad did not respond to requests for comment.

Developer decides not to proceed with low-nitrogen septic systems for Stony Brook Square shopping center

Construction will soon begin on the Stony Brook Square shopping center, rendering above. Photo from the Stony Brook Square website

By Rita J. Egan

After three years of planning and changes, things are gearing up for the Stony Brook Square shopping center, which will be located near the Long Island Rail Road Station in Stony Brook on Route 25A. However, local environmentalists and legislators are disappointed the developer will not be installing low-nitrogen septic systems.

While the developer, Parviz Farahzad, a former scientist with Brookhaven National Laboratory, was encouraged by Brookhaven Town and the Suffolk County Department of Health Services to install a low-nitrogen septic system, and said he originally hoped to, he has now opted to use a traditional waste system.

“It’s in the area that if you flush the toilet there, under two years that water ends up in the harbor loaded with nitrogen.”

— George Hoffman

In a letter dated Jan. 4, 2017, to Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), SCDHS Commissioner James Tomarken said the Stony Brook Square property was proposed to be served by public water and on-site sewage, and advanced wastewater treatment was not required under the current Suffolk County Sanitary Code. However, he wrote that the systems were encouraged by the county for both new development and retrofits to existing development.

“Although nitrogen reduction from advanced wastewater treatment is not required for this project, Suffolk County would be committed to working with the town and the applicant in reviewing the potential use of alternative, advanced wastewater treatment technology,” Tomarken wrote.

George Hoffman, co-founder of the Setauket  Harbor Task Force and vice president of the Three Village Civic Association, said he and other environmentalists were disappointed to hear Farahzad was not installing the low-nitrogen systems. Hoffman calls the septic systems the “wave of the future” and said he believes most commercial properties will install them in the next year or so.

“Everybody at some point, when it comes time to redevelopment, they should be putting in low-nitrogen systems,” he said. “It’s crazy to put in the old system that we know really doesn’t work and could cause problems.”

Hoffman said the shopping center site, which is a mile from Stony Brook Harbor, is within the watershed of the waterway.

“It’s in the area that if you flush the toilet there, under two years that water ends up in the harbor loaded with nitrogen,” Hoffman said. “It really is a missed opportunity. He knows our concerns. He can be a real leader here in the community. I think people would think very highly that he was doing the right thing.”

The land parcel was recently fenced off to prepare for construction. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station), who spearheaded community visioning meetings for Route 25A, said the town encourages project applicants to follow environmentally friendly practices when possible.

“In this case, both the town planning board and the 25A Citizens Advisory Commission strongly encouraged the applicant to utilize a low-nitrogen septic system,” Cartright said. “As of earlier last year, it was the town’s understanding that the applicant would be applying for the low-nitrogen system. This recent development is very disappointing and a missed opportunity to benefit our environment.”

According to the SCDHS website, three systems have been approved for commercial properties that process between 1,000 and 15,000 gallons of water per day. According to Tomarken’s letter to Romaine, the calculation for the proposed density flow of the shopping center was 1,800 gpd.

County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) said Farahzad met with SCHDS staff members who were eager to assist him, and other Suffolk County developers have used the systems.

“As the county health department works to update county requirements for on-site wastewater treatment, this project could have led the way and shown our community that our drinking and surface waters are a priority to protect,” Hahn said.

Farahzad said he was hesitant to use technology that he feels is fairly new, and he said he feared if it failed it could let off obnoxious odors in an area surrounded by homes.

“If you want true elimination [of nitrogen] — basically what we want for it not to get into the groundwater — you have to have a sewer system.”

— Parviz Farahzad

The developer said such systems only reduce a percentage of nitrogen, and he believes sewers are more appropriate for commercial use. If a sewer district was established in the area, he said he would immediately connect the shopping center to it.

“If you want true elimination [of nitrogen] — basically what we want for it not to get into the groundwater — you have to have a sewer system,” Farahzad said.

Development of the shopping center was approved at the March 6, 2017, Town of Brookhaven Planning Board meeting. Farahzad agreed to add more trees to the final site than originally planned and will require tenants to use signage that consists of wood-base signs with gooseneck lighting, among other concessions after receiving community feedback. He said originally there were plans to add a clock tower; however, residents at a town board meeting objected to permitting a 60-foot height to raise a clock tower in the middle building at the rear of the center.

“It’s going to be something that is good for the community, good for the university, good for The Stony Brook School,” Farahzad said. “These are the people that are going to basically need it.”

In December, the vacant nursery that stood on the land designated for revisioning was demolished, and the parcel is currently fenced off and ready for construction once the weather warms up. Farahzad said it will take a year before the shopping center is completed, and owners of a bank, restaurants, a neighborhood pharmacy and a coffeehouse have already shown interest in leasing.

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Developer Parviz Farahzad proposes constructing a shopping center near Stony Brook University after a year of planning. Rendering from Stony Brook Square plan

By Giselle Barkley

Residents and members of the Civic Association of the Setaukets and Stony Brook want more walking and less driving, at least when it comes to the new Stony Brook Shopping Center proposal.

On Monday, Nov. 2, the association met with residents to discuss developer Parviz Farahzad’s proposal of the Stony Brook Square shopping center. His proposal aims to improve the Route 25A corridor across from Stony Brook’s Long Island Rail Road station, which was once known as the old Gustafson property. Farahzad’s Stony Brook Square will include restaurants, a bank and a coffee shop, among other small businesses.

Shawn Nuzzo, president of The Civic Association of the Setaukets and Stony Brook, voiced concerns of residents and civic members, saying the civic had met and discussed the proposal and were contemplating long-term impacts with help from the Three Village Chamber of Commerce and Stony Brook Fire Department.

“For years, the Three Village community has been advocating for a Route 25A corridor study, with hopes of improving the area near the train station,” he said. “Without a comprehensive plan, which examines how an area functions as a whole, we end up with ad hoc planning and dysfunctional neighborhoods.”

Nuzzo said that after meeting with various neighborhood stakeholders over next few weeks, he and the civic plan on submitting comments to the town and developer.

According to Farahzad, creating the plan was a yearlong process. As a Three Village resident he said the center is something that’s “needed for [Stony Brook University … and the community]. He added that he wanted to do something that was attractive for the area.

The proposal falls under the J Business district zone, which means that the developer is allowed to build his desired plan as per a zoning change that took place in the 1990s.

Although he did not attend the meeting and is not fully aware of residents’ concerns regarding the proposal, Farahzad said he might alter the proposal to accommodate various suggestions if necessary. He also admitted that the proposal doesn’t meet the required number of 197 parking stalls. Currently the proposal caters for 139 parking spaces.

According to Nuzzo, no one did anything with the property for years until Farahzad purchased the land. The association was pushing for a plan for several years to get a sense of what that area could look like in the future.

Tullio Bertoli, commissioner of Planning, Environment and Land Management for the Town of Brookhaven didn’t respond to messages when asked to comment on Farahzad’s shopping center plan.

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