Town planning board continues to put shopping center development on hold

Town planning board continues to put shopping center development on hold

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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.

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