Condo plans for lumber property faces opposition

Condo plans for lumber property faces opposition

Developer Mark Baisch wants to establish 40 one-bedroom apartments for senior citizens on the former Thurber Lumber property in Rocky Point. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Nearly a month after Rocky Point’s Thurber Lumber Co. Inc. closed its doors, developer Mark Baisch of Landmark Properties plans on transforming the property to make room for senior citizens.

Baisch said he wants to establish 40 one-bedroom apartments on the former 1.8-acre space near Broadway to help the area’s aging population. Baisch hasn’t finalized rent for these 600 square foot apartments, but said future residents will pay a little more than $1,000 a month.

Baisch has been met with some opposition on his plans.

“People say he does good work, but to come in and say ‘this is what’s going to work down here, even though you don’t want it,’ is kind of strange,” said Albert Hanson, vice president of the Rocky Point Civic Association and chair of the land use committee.

Hanson said the civic and members of the community, who found out about the plans in February, haven’t had ample time to brainstorm alternative ideas for the area. Hanson added that the area doesn’t need additional housing.

According to Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), Rocky Point is a high-density area already, and she added that the Thurber property is also a small area for Baisch’s apartments. The Legislator said she envisions different plans for the property.

“I would love to see a community center over there,” said Anker. “[The property is in] the heart of downtown Rocky Point.”

But Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) said Baisch’s plans comply with a land use plan conducted in the area several years ago. Brookhaven officials adopted the land use plan for downtown Rocky Point back in 2012. The plan called for medium density housing in downtown Rocky Point, among other improvements. Although some residents oppose the plan, the councilwoman said there is a need for these kinds of residences townwide.

“There’s a large number of seniors who live back in North Shore Beach …. and many have reached out to me excited about this,” the councilwoman said.

Baisch wanted to create apartment units because of the property’s sanitary flow requirements — the amount of sewage per unit is less for a 600 square foot unit. According to Baisch, the apartments will give seniors more freedom in their daily lives. He added that Suffolk County is committed to establishing a bus stop in the area to further assist prospective senior residents.

“They have to pay taxes, they have to pay their oil bill, they have to pay for repairs [for their home] — Rocky Point is probably one of the most unsafe communities I know of, to walk around,” Baisch said. “So they have all these things that are burdening them as seniors and they basically have nowhere to go.”

Baisch added that these residents could live comfortably in his apartments on their Social Security or the equity they received after selling their home. While some senior citizens, like Linda Cathcart of Rocky Point, don’t plan on selling their home any time soon, she said Baisch’s plans will bring a stable population to the area.

“There’s 40 units proposed, so you’re talking about possibly 80 seniors who could bring business to the existing businesses,” Cathcart said. “Also, it would encourage new businesses to come into the area.”

Cathcart added that Baisch discussed putting the original railroad station structure from the area on the property, in addition to the apartment units. The railroad structure dates back to the 1920s and 30s.

Despite the proposed plans for the property, Hanson said the civic and some community members were debating using other local talent or developers to establish a vision and plan for the area that appeals to other residents.

“We have to think of what we would like to see down there that would make us draw [people to downtown Rocky Point],” Hanson said about the property. “I think what a lot of people don’t want is losing the opportunity to actually have a downtown.”