Smithtown community members are not rolling out the welcome mat, when it comes to a proposed boutique hotel.
Residents crowded town hall to protest a hotel planned for a seven-acre parcel next to the Watermill Caterers, a catering hall on Route 347 and Terry Road. Their main concerns: increased traffic in the surrounding area, lower property values and several environmental issues.
Smithtown Town Board held a hearing May 23 on the project, proposed by business owner Anthony Scotto. The much-awaited hearing filled the Eugene Cannataro Senior Citizens Center to standing room only. The $28.2 million project would need a special-exception use for it to begin construction. The site is currently zoned for industrial and neighborhood business and not for a hotel.
Scotto’s team of consultants presented an updated site rendering of the hotel to the crowd. The Sands Point businessman looks to build a four-story, 130-room hotel at the Watermill, a property that he also owns.
“This is a project that Smithtown will be proud of,” Scotto said to the crowd. The mention that many residents would one day become customers drew jeers from the crowd.
According to the business owner’s team, the hotel would only have a 1.09 percent increase in traffic around the hotel and would yield $680,000 annually in tax revenue for the town.
The consultants pointed to a traffic study performed that showed the hotel would generate about 97 vehicle trips during peak hours on a Friday and 61 during Saturday — which drew a sarcastic laugh from the crowd.
Roseann Salamone of Smithtown said her house is right behind the property and she is worried about decreasing property values for her and neighbors.
“Who here would buy a home with a four-story hotel right in the back of it?” she asked. “I will not be able to enjoy my backyard and lose all my privacy.”
“Who here would buy a home with a four-story hotel right in the back of it?”
— Roseann Salamone
She also cited the potential of increased noise and air pollution the hotel could bring.
“My home is on a hill which means the people in the hotel will be able to look directly into it,” Salamone said.
Many residents raised concerns about the traffic in the neighborhood, stating that it is not uncommon for patrons at receptions to go on beer runs. Instead of using the main roads, they use residential streets like Rhoda Avenue and Sheppard Lane to get to 7-Eleven.
“Moms are pushing wagons, people are walking, families are about … that could have tragedy written all over it,” one resident said. “How is that beneficial to this community and their families?”
Nick Donohue of Smithtown also expressed his concerns on the traffic on Rhoda Avenue stating that the traffic study shown left out the impact on that street.
“My neighbors have seen me countless times repairing my sprinkler system after cars drive on my lawn,” he said. “I don’t need more traffic coming down the block. I also have children and we are always on our wagons going down the block — there are no sidewalks in this neighborhood.”
Another thing Donohue was concerned about was the design of the building which supposedly will be no higher than the roofs of the home located south of the hotel’s property.
“If this was done right, it could be a benefit”
— William Capurso
“The elevations they chose [in their presentation] are misleading,” he said. “You don’t compare the roofline of a hotel and a home — you look at the first floor. It works to their advantage, but it doesn’t adequately tell you that when you look outside your window, you will
see this four-story monstrosity.”
The Smithtown resident said he and others moved there to get away from the urban sprawl of Nassau County.
Out of the more than 20 people who spoke against the proposal, only two individuals were supportive.
“If this was done right, it could be a benefit,” said William Capurso of St. James. “He [Scotto] is investing in our township. That’s a good thing.”
Some residents mentioned that the hotel development could cause more problems in an area that is known to flood.
Bob Goykin, a board member of the We Are Nesconset civic group, said despite being friends with Scotto he doesn’t believe the community needs this hotel.
“Mr. Scotto’s wrong when he says we need this hotel,” Goykin said. “We don’t need his hotel — he needs his hotel. A four-story building is an abomination in this location and goes completely against the character and feel of this community.”