Tags Posts tagged with "Development"


A development proposal has caused uproar over the past month among residents of St. James, as reported in The Times of Smithtown. Mills Pond Group, owned by Fort Salonga developer Frank Amicizia, proposed the construction of an assisted living facility on the former Bull Run Farm on Mills Pond Road.     

The proposal included a two-story, 97-bed assisted living facility to be built on the property, which is 9.02 acres in total and is in residential zoning. At a public meeting with lawyers of the developers of the project in March, many residents were outspoken in their disapproval of the proposal. This ultimately resulted in Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) announcing that a special exception would not be made for the assisted living facility.

Additionally, Wehrheim intends to legislate that assisted living homes will not be approved to be built in areas zoned residential. Smithtown public information officer, Nicole Garguilo, said that “for the longest time there was this loophole in the town’s code” which provided an opportunity for a “special exception” for developers when attempting to gain the rights to build on a piece of land.

“One of the most common criticisms was that developers often used this loophole to get through the process without having to go through a zone change,” Garguilo said. 

This special exception essentially enables them to “go right to the Town Board rather than going through all of the zoning boards and environmental reviews — it was very frustrating to residents.”

Garguilo went on to explain that the Town Board intended to propose legislation to remove the loophole even before this issue arose with the Bull Run Farm proposal. She said she believes this would reflect the interests of the community.

“You’re going to be hard pressed to get anybody in the whole hamlet of St. James to support an assisted living [facility] on that land,” Garguilo said. “That land people want to see preserved. They want to see it maybe become an active farm again.”

Garguilo went on to explain that “a lot of it has to do with the sentimental value of the farm and the history there.” People remember when the farm was active, she said. Some might have fond memories such as sleigh riding or feeding carrots to the horses. Garguilo herself used to spend her allowance money on Blow Pops from the farm stand, and her family would frequently buy pies from the Elderkins — the family that ran the farm.

As there does not seem to be a path to building this assisted living facility at that location, an alternative option that the developers could turn to is building homes on the property.

“When they originally presented their plan, they had presented a backup plan with it, which was to build a subdivision of homes,” Garguilo said     .

She went on to say that while members of the community would likely prefer the land simply preserved, they may be more willing to accept this alternative as it would be in line with the town’s codes.

“I think it’s a pill easier for them to swallow rather than seeing assisted living go up on that land.”

The next Town Board meeting will be held Thursday, April 20, at 2 p.m. at Smithtown Town Hall, 99 W. Main St. Garguilo said it is unlikely that the board will be prepared to vote on removing the special exception loophole at this meeting, but that residents should expect a vote in the near future.

A 1920s farmhouse sits on the property and will be demolished if efforts to save it are unsuccessful. Photo from Herb Mones

The Town of Brookhaven Planning Board closed a public hearing regarding a subdivision proposed for East Setauket at its June 6 meeting and placed it on its decision calendar.

The eight-lot preliminary subdivision which will feature a cul-de-sac and include a drainage basin is located at the southeast corner of Pond Path and Upper Sheep Pasture Road in East Setauket. The application was submitted by Anthony Martino, president of Winmar Homes based in Ronkonkoma.

Three residents and representatives from the Three Village Civic Association, George Hoffman and Herb Mones, attended the June 6 meeting to express their concerns regarding the board approving the preliminary subdivision with the consideration of cluster treatment by the developer.

The approximately 6 1/2 acre property, zoned as residential, is known locally as the Selleck property. On the property is a 1920s farmhouse that the developer plans to demolish. The civic association has asked for it to be protected.

The civic association and residents also listed concerns regarding the recharge basin, traffic and elevation of the planned houses.

Mones said time is needed to reflect on the development that has been used for farming in the past.

“It deserves a little more careful scrutiny and concern from the Planning Board in our opinion,” he said.

The civic association members also believe there is a better alternative to dealing with water runoff than a recharge basin, which will have a chain link fence around it.

Hoffman compared the recharge basin to a 1950s sump and said the development does not represent good planning. He said the corner of Pond Path and Upper Sheep Pasture Road is “the most prominent part of this community — it’s a very busy section.” 

Michael Kelly, who lives close to the planned development, said the thought of a recharge basin near his home keeps him up at night. He said there are others in the community that have not been maintained, are overgrown and “havens for rodents.”

Kelly added with an elementary school across the street that there is already enough traffic and accidents in the neighborhood, where he has lived for five years. Kelly said he has already witnessed a couple of accidents where speeding drivers have hit telephone poles.

Colleen Gitto, who also lives nearby, wanted to be assured that each lot would be a half an acre and was concerned that the two-story houses proposed may be elevated more and those homes would overlook nearby properties.

Patchogue-based attorney Larry Davis, representing the developer, said all lots would adhere to the 22,500 square feet required by the town, which is slightly more than half an acre.

Anthony Zalak, of J.R. Holzmacher Engineering in Ronkonkoma, said regarding the recharge basin they are bound by the town requirements, and it is designed to comply to the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan, which requires 9 inches of rainfall to be held.

“If a recharge basin was eliminated, or diminished in size, that stormwater would have to go to some other systems which of course would be precast,” Zalak said.

He added that an estimate would be more than 70 leaching pools, which he said would have to be spread out through the subdivision roadway or in a combination of Upper Sheep Pasture and Pond Path. The plan is for red cedar trees along the roadways to screen the recharge basin.

Zalak said there will be no added elevation of the homes from the current plan.

He added that no traffic study has been conducted because eight parcels do not dictate the need for a study.

The engineer said some interim plans have been submitted to the town to try to include the existing farmhouse which involved clustering of the new homes.

“The layout of the entire parcel itself, its elevation to the east is much higher than down to the roadway at the west on Pond Path,” he said. “The configuration of this parcel layout involves cutting the roadway in and shaving it down — we’ll say from access on Upper Sheep Pasture. So, trying to retain that existing house really doesn’t work out well at all for conforming lots and configuration of the roadway to come in through the middle of the whole parcel and have a cul-de-sac of the property conforming to the cul-de-sac to the south side.”

The next day Mones said that the consideration for clustering that has been proposed by the developer does not allow enough land for the preservation that the civic association had hoped for.

Planning Board members said before placing the subdivision on its decision calendar, that the first decision would be for the preliminary subdivision. Since it would not be a final approval, there will be revisions and another public hearing will be held once final plans are completed.

Jefferson’s Ferry CEO Bob Caulfield and Jefferson’s Ferry board member and Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright at the Dec. 10 groundbreaking. Photo from Jefferson's Ferry

South Setauket retirement community Jefferson’s Ferry broke ground Dec. 10 on a $89 million expansion and renovation project creating 60 new apartment-style homes and more amenities to its One Jefferson Ferry Drive facility.

Once completed, the 165,000 square foot project will add 60 new independent living one- and two-bedroom, plus den apartment homes with open floor plans to Jefferson’s Ferry’s existing 220 apartments and 28 cottages. Plans also call for a new marketplace café, bistro-bar, destination dining room with alternating types of cuisines. Part of the project includes renovations, additions and the construction of a new 28,520 square foot building.

In a release, Jefferson’s Ferry CEO Bob Caulfield said the new facility will “enhance the lifestyle and experience for current residents and appeal to the desires and needs of a whole new generation of Long Islanders planning for retirement.”

The new project is partially due to tax-exempt bonds secured from the Town of Brookhaven Local Development Corporation. At its Oct. 20 public hearing for the proposed bonds, the LDC said the bonds were expected to be $100,000,000 and up to and not to exceed $125,000,000. The bond issuer is also expected to provide additional financial assistance with mortgage recording taxes exemptions for financing or refinancing of the project, according to the hearing minutes.

“The Brookhaven Local Development Corporation is pleased to play a small part in the expansion of this outstanding residence and health care facility,” Frederick C. Braun III, chairman of the Brookhaven LDC, said in a release. 

Last August, the retirement community was awarded low-cost energy by the ReCharge NY energy program to support the multi-million dollar expansion and renovation project. 

Jefferson’s Ferry currently employs 350 people and is expected to add 41 jobs in exchange for 435 kilowatts of power for a 7-year period. 

“The cost savings are significant to Jefferson’s Ferry, and, in turn, to residents living on fixed incomes,” Caulfield said. “Reducing our energy costs through this program goes a long way in helping us control the amount of fees we charge our members, giving them peace of mind about their future.” 

The new Healthy Living Center will incorporate a modern and fully equipped gym and fitness room with access to professional trainers, plus a state of the art wellness and rehabilitation center. Residents can continue to access preventive care from a team of wellness experts in audiology, internal medicine, cardiology, dentistry, podiatry, psychiatry and ear, nose and throat specialists. Lab services and assistance with making medical appointments and filling prescriptions are also available.

“Our community is designed for aging better for longer, whether you live in independent living, assisted living, memory care or skilled nursing,” Caulfield said.

The construction project includes an addition to the existing Vincent Bove Health Center, including a new assisted living building designed for residents living with Alzheimer’s dementia and other memory impairing diseases. Existing dining, activities and community spaces in the assisted living and the skilled nursing center will be renovated to allow more space in a kind of open air environment, according to Jefferson’s Ferry.

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The concept drawings for the Port Jefferson Crossing development include the sight of Station Street, a one-way road which will be built by the Village of Port Jefferson to connect the eastern side of the project. Image from design plans

Conifer Realty had its first public hearing in front of the Port Jefferson Village planning board July 9. Amongst a few comments about safety and general aesthetics, Conifer representatives also revealed they were requesting that the planning board, and later the board of trustees, consider a renovated sidewalk and other amenities in place of village parkland fees.

The project, called Port Jefferson Crossing, would be located directly adjacent to the Long Island Rail Road train station and would take over the property of a now-decrepit cafe.

Kathleen Deegan Dickson, of Uniondale-based law firm Forchelli Deegan Terrana, said the developer was requesting such reduced parkland fees because of its plans to renovate the sidewalk on the southern side of the project which borders a still-to-be constructed road called Station Street. The developer plans to add trees, benches and other plantings near the intersection with Main Street, then gift that stretch of sidewalk with added amenities to the village.

“It was certainly our hope that the planning board would give some consideration to either a reduced or eliminated parkland fee in light of the fact we are improving and dedicating land back to the village,” Dickson said. “While we’re not going to pretend it’s a park it will have some features that will add a nice community benefit to the areas.”

Alison LaPointe, special village attorney for building and planning, said the determination of parkland fee is a two-step process, first with the planning board determining if there is parkland fee that needs to be assessed based on availability of parkland in the vicinity of the project, accounting for the number of new residents coming in with the planned apartments. If the planning board finds a parkland fee is necessary, the matter gets transferred to the board of trustees to determine a reasonable fee for that need. The planning board doesn’t have the availability to assess specifics of the fee, though it can account for what is already available, which may include the Texaco park just a little over a block away from the proposed site.

“The planning board has the ability to assess whether or not additional parkland facilities are deemed necessary in the vicinity,” LaPointe said.

The village has usually used the Town of Brookhaven’s formula for assessing price on parkland fee, namely a multiplier formula that requires 1,500 square feet of public green space per unit in a housing development or $1,000 fine per unit if that space can’t be provided.

The issue of parkland fees has come up in the village before, namely with The Shipyard apartments developed by Tritec on West Broadway. Original parkland fees for that development were reduced due to Tritec then saying they were providing amenities on their rooftop and in a plaza. At the time, in 2018, the village building and planning department ruled it could satisfy the parkland requirement for about 21 of that complex’s 112 units based on square footage.

In 2019, the village changed code to eliminate rooftop decks, patios and other common areas not accessible to the general public from being considered park or recreational facilities for the purposes of developers reducing the parkland fee paid to the village.

Planning board member Barbara Sabatino requested the applicant provide the total value of what Conifer plans to dedicate to the village. 

The project currently has plans for three floors, with the first floor being 3,200 square feet of retail and the next two containing 37 one-bedroom apartments and eight two-bedroom apartments. The front part of the project will take up 112 lineal feet of frontage on Main Street, and current designs show two different designs for the two halves of the building, one a “lofty style,” as put by the developer’s architects, and the other a red-brick Georgian style. Some planning board members commented on the general flatness of the exterior, but LaPointe said more of these comments will be ironed out after meetings with the Architectural Review Committee.

Only one resident commented on the proposed plans. Rebecca Kassay, the co-owner of the Fox and Owl Inn in Port Jeff, asked whether Conifer plans to have solar panels on its roof. Joanna Cuevas, senior project director for Conifer Realty, said there are currently no plans for solar panels, but the developer could assess the cost benefit of including those.

Another planning board meeting is set for Aug. 20, and is available for further public comment.

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A public hearing will be held May 21 to discuss the possibility of apartments in Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge. File photo

By Leah Chiappino

A local civic group is protesting a proposal to develop an overlay district that would add apartments to the Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge.

Nesconset resident James Bouklas, the president of the civic group We Are Smithtown, is leading the efforts a couple of weeks before a public hearing.

Bouklas said the group started in 2017, as the Nesconset Civic Association, in order to advocate for residents.

“We looked around at what was going on in our hamlet and saw untethered development at all costs,” he said. “We also saw that sidewalks were in disrepair, intersections were treacherous, and people died, and we saw that we had a bunch of new buildings going up, yet there was no restraint. We began to advocate for what we felt was the right path forward for Nesconset.”

He added that as the organization grew, the members started to see that things that were happening in other hamlets affected the entire town as he feels they set precedent the town to support similar developments. The group has led protests against subdividing the Gyrodyne development in St. James, which would make room to build a hotel, medical offices and assisted living homes on the Flowerfield property. They also took a stand against the proposal to build a boutique hotel on the site of the Watermill catering hall in Smithtown. Subsequently, the group changed its name to We are Smithtown in January.

Bouklas said the latest proposal to build apartments in the industrial park is poorly timed with COVID-19.

“Instead of trying to make sure Smithtown families are fed, food banks are in stock, and residents have the resources that they need, the town is spending time trying to figure out how to get developers to profit for building what we think is going to be Co-op City in Smithtown,” he said, referencing the cooperative housing development in the Bronx.

“People moved out from Queens so they can have some space,” he said. “We didn’t sign up for density. If they wanted density, then they would move to Queens.”

Town of Smithtown spokesperson Nicole Garguilo said that the group is putting out “a tremendous amount of bad information.” She confirmed that the project is just a proposal and is not in development.

“This is a public hearing to create an overlay district at the park so the Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge can evolve and sustain as the economic engine it has been for the state for the next 20 to 30 years,” she said.

Garguilo said that if the apartments are built, there would likely not be an increase in traffic during peak times as they are seeking to create a “walkable workforce community,” so residents can walk to jobs in the industrial park. She added the town traffic director believes that the weekend may cause an uptick in traffic, as “young professionals may choose to head to the beach, parks or other fun recreational activities.” However, the town believes it would be “primarily unnoticeable,” as weekends are usually quiet in the park.”

Bouklas said that he has doubts that the apartments will be affordable and worries the town will give tax breaks to the developers of the property.

“A lot of people are going to make a lot of money,” he said.

He said he has additional concerns that the development will overwhelm the school system, the police department and the fire department. Garguilo said apartments would not be targeted to families with school-aged children, but rather millennials looking to start their careers. The town hopes that this would attract high-tech businesses such as Google, Apple and Facebook, companies college graduates are looking for jobs at.

“[Young people] want to enjoy the start of their careers, put together savings for a future home in the town where they were raised,” she said. “In addition to affordable living — that’s not their parents’ basement apartment — they want to find the perfect career.”

The proposal came from a 2019 report conducted by James Lima Planning + Development strategists to grow the industrial park.

According to the report, the park already accounts for 8.2 percent of Long Island’s gross domestic product and houses more than 55,000 employees of 1,350 companies. Currently, it generates $65 million in property taxes.

The report suggested that “a residential component within the peripheral areas of the park would not only provide potential housing for Hauppauge’s workforce but would enable the park to retain vitality and dynamism that could go beyond business hours and into the weekends.” It listed Motor Parkway and the sections of Old Willets Path that lies between Engineer road and Motor Parkway.

A public hearing will be held via Zoom May 21 at 2 p.m. Visit www.smithtownny.gov for more information.

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Brookhaven Taps Lower Bid, Cites Environmental Concerns

The Mount Sinai Yacht Club has been around for close to half a century, and its lease has been renewed for another 20 years. Photo by Kyle Barr

A new lease agreement between the Town of Brookhaven and Mount Sinai Yacht Club sees its annual price increase by a factor of 10, and some bidders were left unhappy with the board’s final choice.

The Town Board voted unanimously to award the lease bid to the Mount Sinai Yacht Club for a term from Jan. 1, 2021, through Dec. 31, 2040, for a total of $302,500 annually. This amount will increase by 3 percent after the first 10-year period and every five years after. 

A score of yacht club members showed up at the Dec. 5 meeting for support. Photo by Kyle Barr

This is a hefty jump of what the yacht club is currently paying for the lease agreement, $29,109. Town Attorney Annette Eaderesto said the site is assessed at around $110,000, but competitive bids upped that price.

Both Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) and Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) recused themselves from the discussion, with Bonner being a member and LaValle’s family having been past members.

The town acquired the property in 1975 through a condemnation process for “town purposes.” The town then leases the property to the yacht club, and the first term of the town lease that was set to expire in 2000 was extended until 2020. The yacht club operates the marina and ancillary facilities, with a yacht club commodore saying they currently operate over 100 boat slips. The lease agreement includes 2.4 acres of upland and 2.6 acres of underwater property. He said the yacht club currently has a $1.2 million gross yearly revenue through both its house and general funds.

The yacht club charges $1,000 as a first-time fee and $1,600 in annual fees after that. Some who spoke at the Dec. 5 meeting charged that it was unfair that taxpayers be restricted from entering town property based on being a member or paying for the privilege.

Jeffrey Hulse, a Sound Beach-based attorney representing the yacht club, said the yacht club considers itself a “public-oriented facility” that makes itself available for other organizations to meet or run events, including Boy Scout groups and Coast Guard Auxiliary.

“We are open on a nondiscriminatory basis for anyone who wants to apply — we bring in new members each and every year,” said the attorney, who is also a 30-year member of the club. “We consider ourselves a working man’s clubhouse … we maintain this club in a pristine condition.”

Several scores of yacht club members attended the Dec. 5 public hearing where trustees discussed the merits of the separate bids. By the end they clapped and cheered as the town announced its decision.

“We’ve had the honor of experiencing an environment that is very family oriented and community oriented,” yacht club member John Amato said to the board. “This organization has provided our family with the true experience of family and community when we lost our son almost 17 years ago.” He added the club has facilitated scholarships for high school students throughout the local area in the name of his son.

However, not all were happy with the board’s decision. 

“Sounds to me if I wanted to go there, I would have to come up with $2,600 before I step foot on the property.”

— Chris Abbot

Chris Abbot, of the Riverhead-based Smith, Finkelstein, Lundberg Isler and Yakaboski LLP, represents Russell Waller, the CFO of North Shore Enterprises, the operator of Old Man’s Boatyard along the same peninsula as the yacht club. That proposal came in at $327,600.

In its original proposal letter, then attorney for Waller, Dennis Collins, proposed creating a restaurant with bar service that is open to the public, also renovating the upstairs attic area into a large room with an outside deck that could be rented for parties or meetings. The proposal also spoke of securing the four docks and 100 boat slips with gates and cameras in the same way that Danfords in Port Jefferson secures its docks.

The attorney was miffed over the board’s decision, saying his client’s proposed bid was the highest out of the four submitted. The yacht club’s bid came third highest at a total of four other bids for the lease, the other amounts being $230,000 from Strong’s Marine in Mattituck and $317,000 from William Dick, a yacht club member and past commodore. 

“The yacht club was there when the town acquired the property through a condemnation proceeding — that’s when property is for public use and benefit,” Abbot said. “Sounds to me if I wanted to go there, I would have to come up with $2,600 before I step foot on the property.”

Members of the town board said the choice in lease agreement also came down to the use of the property, with Abbot’s client looking to add an additional story to the building, which a town review said would have increased traffic and parking issues, as well as environmental concerns. The yacht club, and other surrounding buildings are built on a sandbar, and Eaderesto said an analysis showed an intensified use would lead to more pollution into the Mount Sinai Harbor.

A report from the town’s Division of Land Management said they were concerned with the other proposals for adding to the footprint and height of the structure, saying it would increase the impact of nitrogen and traffic. The report acknowledged the Mount Sinai Management Plan, which looked to keep development of the sand bar down while looking to restore habitat and decrease pollution.

“We have a lot of issues in this town, but money is not always the paramount issue,” said Councilman Dan Panico (R-Manorville). “We always try to find the best fit, and in a town with over $300 million budget every dollar matters … to me on a sandbar, I don’t find the actions of this committee to be in any way arbitrary.”

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A rendering of the proposed development in Mount Sinai. Image from Steven Losquadro

A Mount Sinai millennial housing project, located on Route 25A near Myrtle Street, dubbed Mount Sinai Meadows inches closer to breaking ground on construction. 

On July 19, Woodmere-based real estate developer Basser-Kaufman was approved of a change of zoning from J-Business 2 to Planned Development District. The application is currently being reviewed by the Town of Brookhaven Planning Board. 

Lori Murphy, legislative aide for Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) said the application is currently being looked at by the Planning Board and will have to be reviewed by multiple departments including the Highway Department. 

Asked if she knew how long the Planning Board would take to review the application, Murphy said it varies from a case by case basis and could only confirm that the zone change was approved by the town. 

Site plans for the project call for 140 housing units, including 106 two-bedroom apartments and 34 one-bedroom apartments. The complex will have bike racks, walkable grounds, communal barbecue areas, electric car charging stations, a large open lawn for the use of residents and four spaces toward the northern end of the property that will be used for large retail spaces, according to a March 2019 TBR News Media article. There will be 21.78 acres used for residential housing, while 8.3 acres will be retail. 

The mixed-use complex will be geared toward creating a living space for young adults and young professionals. According to the developers, they are catering toward the 20-34 age group. 

Ann Becker, president of the Mount Sinai Civic Association, reiterated that the civic supports the development and are awaiting to hear updates from the town once it goes through planning. 

“We want something for young people and professionals,” she said. “We were looking for flexible options for available housing for young people, the developer has assured us at this point that the number of children won’t burden the community.”

She brought up another point that approximately 20 percent of the housing stock in the hamlet is for those 55 and older. Becker said they didn’t want an overload of senior living facilities in the area. 

Construction is currently underway for two projects, a 120-unit Bristal assisted living community and a 225-unit senior rental complex for individuals 55 and over at the corner of Echo Avenue and Route 25A.

Becker said while some children could come out from the development, she said she believes it could aid the declining school enrollment in the Mount Sinai School District. 

Marc Kemp, a representative at Bassar-Kaufman, said once they can get site plan approval from the planning board they will move forward with the development.

“It [the review] could take eight to 10 months,” Kemp said. “Once we get the approval we want to break ground as soon as possible.”

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The New Starbucks will be located at the corner of Route 25A and Hallock Landing Road. Photos by Kyle Barr

It’s official, Rocky Point will join the rest of the world in having a Starbucks within walking distance.

The New Starbucks will be located at the corner of Route 25A and Hallock Landing Road. Photos by Kyle Barr

Architects and lawyers for Starbucks presented to Town of Brookhaven Aug. 8 the intent to turn the KFC located at the corner of Route 25A and Hallock Landing Road, into a Starbucks. The applicants were granted amendments on two restrictive covenants on the property by the town board, one requiring the parcel to be a KFC, the other modifying landscaping buffers on the property.

Tulio Bertoli, the town’s planning commissioner, said the plans for the 0.554-acre parcel are consistent with the land use plan for the area originally designed in 2012.

Judith Veglucci, the project manager at Melville-based Catapano Engineering who presented project plans to the board, said the total footprint for the building is remaining the same, and the only changes will be exterior facade changes to turn it from a KFC into a Starbucks.

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Construction on the new Overbay apartments started Aug. 1. Photo by Courtney Biondo

On Thursday, Aug. 1, village residents noticed construction vehicles on the lot located on 217 West Broadway. Suspicions turned out to be correct, as development has finally started on the long-awaited apartment complex.

Construction on the new Overbay apartments started Aug. 1. Photo by Courtney Biondo

Overbay LLC has been in front of the project since it was first purchased in 2013 for $1.8 million. The company is a subsidiary of the Hauppauge-based Northwind Group, which does developments all along the north shore.

Jim Tsunis, the CEO of the Northwind Group, confirmed the start of construction, saying they received their final building permit from the village last week.

“Overbay will consist of 52 apartments with a fitness center and community gathering area,” Tsunis said in an email statement. “There are plans for outdoor balconies and upscale appointments to each apartment.”

The 54,000-square-foot “nautical-style” apartment building will be on the now-vacant site of the former Islander Boat Center building, which was demolished in 2017. Each apartment is expected to be 1,000 square feet each, and a common room area is expected to be approximately 800 square feet.

The start of construction was acknowledged by village officials at the Aug. 5 board meeting. Some in the public offered their concerns over a payment in lieu of taxes agreement between the development and the Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency. That agreement would mean the property would be paying taxes on the assessed undeveloped property during construction and would pay only $28,000 for the first year. The PILOT payment would rise over 15 years to $184,015 before paying the full taxes on its assessed value. The total payment for the PILOT will be $1,590,115.

According to previous reporting by TBR News Media, the complex is also expected to create two permanent jobs and 150 temporary construction jobs over a two-year period.

This PILOT payment is the second in tax agreements between apartment complexes in the village and IDAs. The Shipyard apartments received a similar 15-year PILOT from the Suffolk County IDA, but that agreement was more generous than received by Overbay.

Community members argued that the development would be excused from paying the lion’s share of its taxes, but the mayor argued it was more taxes than a vacant lot.

Still, Mayor Margot Garant argued that while the village has sent letters of disagreement with the IDA decisions for both apartment complexes, they do not have control of how or when those decisions are made.

“We sent a letter saying we were largely concerned on the impact of the schools and our local services,” she said. “The Town IDA and County IDA are really looking to give construction jobs, that’s how they see these developments. We’re more concerned about long-term jobs in terms of IDA relief.”

In January 2018, Tsunis said the agreement would help in offsetting the cost of demolishing the original boat seller building.

Trustee Bruce D’Abramo, the liaison to the planning and building department, said the developer is looking into helical pilings, which screw into the ground instead of being hammered in, which he said should help reduce noise, such as had been residents’ complaints when pilings were being hammered in during the Shipyard apartments construction.

The $10.8 million project was put on hold for years due to financing difficulties relating to the death of a business partner, Garant said at the Aug. 5 meeting.

“That project’s been in the works pre-Garant — 10-plus years,” the mayor said.

The Overbay development is just one of several apartment developments within village limits, with apartments expected to be developed over the now vacated Cappy’s Carpets building, with storefronts underneath. Uptown, Port Jefferson is looking to Conifer Realty LLC, a real estate development firm with projects across New York State and south into Maryland, for “affordable” apartments in what was once the Bada Bing structure, and another project dubbed Walnut Hills located north of Bada Bing in the quadrant before Perry Street. The last project is being developed by the Gitto Group, who were also behind The Hills apartment complex in Upper Port.

In his statement, Tsunis said more information will be available on Northwind Group’s website after Labor Day, Sept. 2.

Huntington town board listens to residents complaints at a March 5 meeting. Photo by David Luces

Many Huntington residents rely on income from accessory apartments to help offset high property taxes. The Town of Huntington has proposed legislation that would change rental rules. In some cases, the new rules are more lenient, making it easier for people to rent space in their home.  But the proposals also include a ban on basement apartments, unless a valid dwelling unit permit already exists. 

The fate of these accessory apartments has proved to be a contentious issue and residents have been debating the pros and cons of such a change in May and June at two town board meetings. 

“This could create cramped and unsafe living conditions.”

— Hector Gavilla

At a May 30 public hearing, a change in local zoning law was discussed and would reduce the lot size requirement for accessory apartments from 7,500 square feet to 5,000. The frontage requirement for an apartment would change from 75 feet to 50 feet. 

Hector Gavilla, a real estate broker in the town for the past 16 years, spoke at the hearing and sent a letter stating that high property taxes are the real problem that needs to be addressed. He also said it is a false narrative to tell people that these changes in the law will lower the rates for apartment rentals. He argued that the changes in law could harm more people than it would help. 

“[The proposal] this will allow too many people to occupy much smaller dwellings,” he said. “This could create cramped and unsafe living conditions.” 

Town records show that the town unanimously approved a resolution to ban basement apartments without a valid permit.

At a June town board meeting, a proposal to ban all basement and cellar apartments, unless a valid permit already exists or is pending with an already-filed application, was put on the table as well as changes to short-term rental rules.  Some residents argued that the ban would negatively impact lower-income homeowners. Others said basement apartments are a safety concern and potentially hazardous, because the space is prone to mold and carbon monoxide leaks. 

Huntington resident Dale Gifford said she is in favor of the ban on basement apartments in the town. 

“Expert environmentalists have come from out of town to lend their voices to educate the public and the board on the damages caused by overdevelopment and overcrowding,” she said. “Nitrate seeps through the soil from stressed cesspools and gets picked up by the heavy rain.” 

John Esposito had similar sentiments on the legislation, stating that it is a no-brainer. Accessory apartments, he said, can be especially hazardous to EMT and emergency response workers due to possible carbon monoxide issues that can occur in basements. 

“This a step in the right direction. Myself and others object to the overdevelopment, zoning of multiple apartment units and the apartments behind Stop and Shop,” he said. “This will give us a better quality of life [in the town].”

Conrad Ege, a Huntington resident, opposed the legislation, saying it was too much of a financial burden. 

“It would make it harder for them to pay some lines of credit, to pay taxes, to pay for other improvements that are necessary on their home and it would just make it more difficult for them to live here,” he said. 

Despite being opposed to the accessory apartment ban, Ege said he supports the legislation that would put limitations on short-term rentals in the town. 

Roger Weaving Jr., president of the Huntington Township Housing Coalition, stated he is in favor of the bill, but asked the board to clarify what they meant by accessory dwelling units. Certain style homes, such as high ranches, could cause some confusion.  He stressed that high ranches should be able to continue to have accessory dwellings.

We are here with concerns and the town is simply putting Band-aids on our problems. The change to 90 days is a start, but we really have a way to go.”

— Justine Aaronson

With the popularity of Airbnb, residents have complained that these short-term rentals have negatively impacted their quality of life. In April, the town board voted to reduce the number of days that a homeowner can engage in short-term rental agreements from 120 days a year to 90 days. Some residents said that the limit is not enough. Justine Aaronson, a Dix Hills resident, complained that accessory apartments affect quality of life. She told the town board of an incident where a stranger’s car with out-of-state plates was parked on their driveway around midnight. Concerned, she called the police and later found out that the individual was staying in a neighbor’s rental unit. 

“I want the Town of Huntington to protect the quality of life in residential communities,” she said. “We are here with concerns and the town is simply putting Band-aids on our problems. The change to 90 days is a start, but we really have a way to go.”

“We’re talking about a win-win-win situation with these amendments as they will make it possible for our older residents to age in place, allow our younger residents to attain the dream of homeownership, all while giving the town a means by which to directly regulate, in many cases, previously illegal rental housing,” said Councilwoman Joan Cergol. “My prior sixteen years in Huntington Town government specializing in economic and community development have deeply sensitized me to the very real financial challenges and housing needs our residents face every day. I’m so gratified to be in a position to answer this call.”

The next public hearing is scheduled for July 16 at 2 p.m.