By Carolyn Sackstein
On the first cold day of the season on Sunday, Nov. 12, locals gathered in the parking lot of Jefferson Plaza along Route 112 in Port Jeff Station to discuss the proposed revitalization of the plaza.
In the days before the gathering, Paul Sagliocca and members of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association canvassed the neighborhoods surrounding the shopping center. This preparation brought out roughly 80 residents.
Sagliocca was joined by fellow civic members Lou Antoniello and Jerry Maxim. Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) spoke to the crowd and Suffolk County Legislator-elect Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) — both representing PJS/T in their respective districts — listened to the concerns of attendees.
The speakers called for residents to attend PJSTCA’s upcoming meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 28, at 7 p.m. at Comsewogue Library. They especially urged residents to speak up during an upcoming meeting of the Brookhaven Town Board to consider a proposed change of zone to a new Commercial Redevelopment District classification on Thursday, Nov. 30.
Owned by Staller Associates, Jefferson Plaza is currently zoned for commercial use. Staller must seek zoning changes from Brookhaven Town for mixed-use development of the property. The proposed revitalization calls for 263 residential units in a four-story structure.
Sagliocca suggested that residents to the west were anxious that the new apartments would have sightlines into their yards and windows. Critics also expressed concerns over increased traffic and possibly rerouting traffic with one-way streets, making accessing their homes inconvenient.
Others raised concern over the impact of potentially many new residents on the environment, especially the aquifer. They questioned how much more stress the local environment could bear.
Another concern was the blocking of the sun by the height of the new structure. Maxim called for a “shade study” to determine how far the shade would extend into the neighborhood. Sagliocca spoke of the impact on Mather and St. Charles hospitals in Port Jefferson, which serve Coram, Selden and the greater Port Jefferson area. Kornreich emphasized the need for a traffic study to be conducted independently and objectively.
Maxim highlighted the potential impact of the proposed units on the Comsewogue School District.
Antoniello explained, “I’m not saying we don’t need multifamily housing, but you can’t have it dictated by the people up in Albany. Right now, the development they want for this area is really land abuse, not land use. They are looking for a density that is three times the allowable density that the Town of Brookhaven allows. This will set a precedent for every multifamily project that occurs in Port Jeff Station, Terryville and Port Jefferson village.”
He added, “As per our hamlet and [commercial] hub study, over 80% of the people questioned said they didn’t want multifamily units. We’re now taking studies which cost combined over a hundred thousand dollars. We are throwing them in the trash. Those are our bibles. We have to do it right, we don’t have a choice.”