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Planning Board

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John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson. File photo from Mather Hospital

Update: The virtual public hearing has been postponed to Thursday March 3, 6:30 p.m.

A public hearing for the Mather/Northwell Hospital Master Plan will be held by the Port Jefferson Village Planning Board on Thursday, Feb. 10 at 6:30 p.m.

Major aspects of the proposed master plan will include expansion of parking; updates to the emergency and surgical departments; modification of traffic patterns, and more.

The plan would be completed in three or four phases: In phase one, Mather/Northwell looks to: expand its northern parking area; expand and fit-out its emergency department; begin expansion of its surgical department; relocate and build-out its heliport; construct an exterior storage building; and complete North Country Road improvements.

As the result of traffic studies, a new traffic signal is proposed for North Country Road. In phase two, Mather/Northwell would complete the interior of their newly expanded surgical department. 

In phase three, Mather/Northwell proposes to expand their main lobby on the south face of the building. If there is an increased need for parking in the future, Mather would build a parking deck over a portion of the existing south-east parking lot as the plan’s phase four.

Phase one’s northern parking expansion is proposed for the northeast corner of the property, where there are currently multiple acres of woodland and walking trails. 

In comments requested by the Planning Board, the Port Jefferson Village Architectural Review Committee suggested that the parking structure — not the expansion of the northern parking lot — should be the first form of parking expansion.

The comments read, “These issues do concern the fabric, both built and natural, which make up the architectural character of a neighborhood. We also wish to state that we do not object, and in fact strongly encourage, the building of a parking structure of the type shown. We suggest that it should be a first strategy, and therefore in lieu of the additional clearing/removal of natural habitat and walking trails which is proposed.” 

In Planning Board work sessions, Mather/Northwell has expressed that they hope not to build the parking structure because of the expense it would add to the project.

At Thursday’s virtual public hearing, viewers will be given a presentation about Mather/Northwell’s master plan and then be able to give comments via Zoom. 

The Zoom meeting link, project map, and more can be found at portjeff.com/virtualmeetings in the Planning Board Materials section. Anyone wishing to submit comments about this project may do so by emailing or sending a letter with comments to Cindy Suarez at the Planning Department, [email protected].

Comments may be received prior to or within 10 days of the Feb. 10 public hearing. The meeting will be recorded and posted to The Village of Port Jefferson’s YouTube channel.

Towards the conclusion of the Feb. 3 Planning Board work session, board Chair Ray DiBiase said, “Let’s see what the public has to say.”

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The McDonald’s in Port Jefferson has closed. Photo by Reid Biondo

A longtime fixture in downtown Port Jefferson closed last week, leaving a business next to Village Hall empty.

The McDonald’s fast food restaurant on West Broadway had been controversial when it first moved in more than a decade ago, but what has been perceived as its abrupt closure has left some scratching their heads. Visitors were met with a sign directing them to a different franchise location in Port Jefferson Station.

“I was totally shocked,” Barbara Sabatino said about when she found out the harborfront restaurant had closed.

The owners and operators of the business, franchisees Peter and Katie Hunt, said in an email statement through a McDonald’s spokesperson on Monday, “It’s been a pleasure to serve this neighborhood and we appreciate the support of the local business community, elected officials and community partners. We are very happy to report that all of our employees have accepted jobs at nearby McDonald’s locations. We remain committed to serving Port Jefferson, and we look forward to continuing our work in this community.”

Sabatino, who runs the Port Jeff Army Navy in upper Port and serves on the village planning board, was a member of the now-defunct civic association at the time McDonald’s was trying to locate in lower Port more than 15 years ago.

“They really had a difficult time,” she said. “[Some people] felt that a McDonald’s did not fit their view of Port Jefferson.”

There were also people on the other side of the argument, she added, who had an attitude of “what’s the big deal?”

While village officials said they were concerned about how the restaurant would look, Sabatino said, the owner was “cooperative” on the architecture and finishing touches, giving it that “seafaring town look, with the dormers on the top and the little trim.”

And the business owner noted that the restaurant has been a good neighbor, cleaning up trash and keeping the property looking nice.

The controversy over it coming in was enough to spur the village board of trustees to take precautions for the future.

According to the village code, officials amended Port Jefferson’s zoning laws in June 2000 to prohibit “formula fast food establishments” in both the C-1 and C-2 central commercial districts, which are located along the main drag in the downtown and uptown areas, respectively.

The Overbay apartments are planned for the former Islander Boat Center on West Broadway, above. File photo

The developer of a controversial apartment complex planned for Port Jefferson’s West Broadway may get financial assistance to help build it.

The Town of Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency announced last week that it had accepted an application for consideration from Hauppauge-based Overbay LLC, which has approval from the Port Jefferson Village Planning Board to construct two 35-foot buildings containing 52 rental apartments.

Overbay is owned by North Shore developer Jim Tsunis.

Some residents have spoken against the project, slated for the corner of Brook Road at the former Islander Boat Center property, with concerns about increased traffic and density. Part of their resistance is linked to the fact that another apartment complex called the Residences at Port Jefferson — a 112-unit building — is due to go up next door at the corner of West Broadway and Barnum Avenue, in the place of the former Heritage Inn. TRITEC Real Estate Company in East Setauket is leading that development.

“We don’t want to be urbanized,” resident Phil Griffith said at a public hearing earlier this year. “It is just too much.”

In both projects, neither of which required variances for approval, parking will be contained underneath the apartments and the housing will replace longtime community eyesores at village’s western entry point.

According to the IDA, which aims to boost the economy within Brookhaven Town by assisting businesses in locating or expanding in the area, it will consider Overbay’s application for financial assistance over the coming few months and will hold a public hearing on the matter.

“We’re pleased to consider this application for this project, which will grow the much-needed supply of rental housing near to Stony Brook University and Port Jefferson’s Mather and St. Charles hospitals,” IDA Chairman Fred Braun said in a press release.

The three-story apartment buildings are expected to create two permanent jobs and 150 construction jobs over a two-year period, the IDA said. Rents could range from $1,800 to $2,200.

There is no commercial component to the Overbay project, though there had been commercial space included in previous proposals for the site.

The IDA has already assisted another apartment project in the area this year, the Rail Realty complex along Texaco Avenue in upper Port. That project, dubbed the Hills at Port Jefferson, will include two three-story buildings for a total of 74 rentals — a mixture of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments — and underground parking.

Vineyard would be Huntington Town’s first

The property is located on Norwood Avenue. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

A Northport property is one step closer to becoming Huntington Town’s very first winery.

The Huntington Town Planning Board granted the owner of a Norwood Avenue parcel conditional site plan approval on June 17 to grow grapes on the approximately 10-acre property. The board also added a condition requiring a second site plan approval if the owners want to build a winery.

Landowner Frederick Giachetti already has approval to subdivide the residentially-zoned property into seven homes, but decided to take the property down a different direction, his attorney Anthony Guardino told the board at last week’s meeting. Plans for a winery still have to be finalized, but the applicant said he wants to go forward with planting eight acres of sterile corn crop to nourish the soil for the planting of vines later on.

Planning Board Chairman Paul Mandelik prompted Guardino to talk about the vineyard plans. Guardino said Steve Mudd, a North Fork viticulturist, who is credited with pioneering Long Island’s wine industry, would be a partner in the business. Guardino also tossed around some ideas for the winery.

The applicant said he envisions a small tasting room on the property, along with wine-making on premises that would occur in a building that would need to be built. Patrons would be able to come in, taste the wine and be able to purchase it, and the business would also sell local honey, and perhaps some cheeses, jams and jelly. He likened it to Whisper Vineyards on Edgewood Avenue in St. James and said the operation would be “very, very small.”

“I don’t want people to think there’s a catering facility,” he said. “That is not something that is being contemplated now or in the future.”

The scale of the operation was a concern some residents brought up in comments to the board, as well as concerns about the operation’s proximity to Norwood Avenue Elementary School. One woman said she wanted to know whether there was potential soil contamination on the land. Out of the approximately dozen individuals who spoke, many were in favor of the proposal.

“This is a unique opportunity in my mind to preserve open space,” Suffolk County Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) said, noting that there is not much more land left in Huntington Town. He urged the board to move quickly in approving it.

One Northport resident expressed concern about being able to manage the popularity of such a business.

Todd Gardella said he works across from White Post Farms in Melville and has witnessed overflow parking in the area.

“My concern is that this might become something that we cannot foresee at this point in time,” Gardella said.
Alexander Lotz, 20, of Northport, said he’s loved agriculture his whole life and is heartened to see the winery proposal, because it shows younger generations that farming can be done.

“To have someone like Fred present something that’s so unrepresented in our area is inspiring,” he said. “And I appreciate him doing this more than anything.”

Mudd was present at the meeting last week, and spoke to some of the residents’ concerns. He said he’s been on the property and tested the soil, and didn’t see anything concerning with regard to soil contamination. He also committed to staying on the community’s good side.

“We will be right neighborly,” he said. “We will do the right thing.”