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rental housing

Northville Industries posters offers two visions for development of their South Setauket property on March 28. Photo by Mallie Jane Kim

The company wants to hear whether neighbors prefer warehouses or rental housing

By Mallie Jane Kim

Northville Industries is ready to try again to discuss with community members the planned development of its East Setauket property, this time at Ward Melville High School’s auditorium, which can seat about 900 people — significantly more than the hotel meeting room rented for the attempted March 25 meeting, which had to be canceled when so many residents showed up they surpassed capacity, forming a fire hazard.

In a letter to residents about the new meeting, which will be Monday, April 29, at 7 p.m., Northville is clear in its determination toward development — whether warehouses, which would be within current zoning designations, or residential rental units, which would require rezoning.

“It is the intention of Northville to move forward with the development of the property,” Northville president, Peter St. Germaine, wrote in the letter. “Prior to pressing ahead for the approval of the industrial development, Northville is seeking community feedback to determine whether the residential option would be preferred by those who would be most impacted by the future development of the site.”

Any site plan for the East Setauket property, bordered by Belle Mead and Upper Sheep Pasture roads, will have to go through a planning approval process with Brookhaven Town Board. 

The current Northville plan includes addition of 220,000 square feet of industrial warehouses, 77 loading docks for tractor trailers and trucks, also 593 employee parking spaces. The alternative plan includes 140 residential rental units with a club house and pool, plus 335 parking spaces for residents and guests.

Town Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) has been clear in his opposition to rezoning the property to allow town house-style rentals, due to the proximity of the proposed residences to large fuel storage tanks, and the lack of proximity to the kinds of infrastructure that makes higher-density housing appealing: public transportation, retail and major roadways. 

“I don’t think that wrapping a rental community around the gas tanks is appropriate land use,” he said, adding that though the Three Village area needs more housing, any extra units need to go in places that make more sense logistically. “I don’t think that area over there — that intersection especially — is looking for that kind of intensification of traffic.”

Kornreich said he also does not think the kind of mega-warehouses proposed are appropriate for the area either, pointing to nearby properties on Belle Mead Road that have integrated lighter industrial uses into the community successfully.

“I would encourage Northville to explore something that is going to be a less intensive use,” he said. “I am hoping they’ll find their way to a third option.”

St. Germaine’s letter also gave residents the option of emailing written comments to: [email protected].