Tags Posts tagged with "Town of Brookhaven Board of Zoning Appeals"

Town of Brookhaven Board of Zoning Appeals

The Stony Brook School. Photo from Facebook

By Samantha Rutt

The Stony Brook School, a private Christian college-preparatory school just off Route 25A in Stony Brook, applied as of July 12 to the Town of Brookhaven Board of Zoning Appeals for a proposed expansion to add three new buildings to the 55-acre campus.

The boarding and day school’s plan includes the construction of an indoor practice facility, a three-story dormitory building and a three-story STEM building. The school’s original application proposed installing a parking lot from campus near the sports facility with exit points onto Chub Hill Road, Stony Road and Woodbine Avenue, potentially resulting in an uptick in traffic in the neighborhood.

Over a dozen residents turned out at Brookhaven Town Hall Wednesday, Aug. 23, presenting a signed petition, copies of emails and a collection of pictures to the zoning board.

At the meeting, representatives from The Stony Brook School presented the board with an updated plan that slightly altered the soon-to-be-constructed building’s exit points, resulting in lower-grade disruption to the surrounding neighborhood.

Residents of the surrounding neighborhoods have begun an outreach effort opposing the expansion, placing fliers in mailboxes and alerting residents of the incoming project.

In addition to fliers, nearby residents created a petition in opposition to the prep school’s plan. The petition addressed the Town Board and further explained the collective concerns throughout the neighborhood. Over a dozen Stony Brook residents signed the petition.

“My neighbors and I are very concerned this will intrude on the quiet enjoyment of our homes and potentially diminish property values,” said Stony Brook resident James Orlando in an email to members of the ZBA.

“This connection creates a new entrance to the interior of campus, which will bring increased student, parent, sports team and other school-related traffic into our neighborhood,” he added.

“I have contacted local real estate agents who have all said my property value will decrease if these buildings are constructed in what is basically my backyard,” Jenny Lorenzen, a Stony Road resident, said.

Some residents considered the expansion plan a safety hazard and a disruption to the tranquility of their neighborhood, noting the potential for increased traffic congestion and noise, decreasing property values and environmental impact.

Lorenzen and other residents voiced concerns at the zoning meeting, centered around emissions from the facilities as they will be air-conditioned and in use year-round. She is also concerned about other potential environmental impacts, mentioning clearance from the Environmental Protection Agency and road surveys.

As is, the neighborhood boasts narrow roadways that poorly accommodate two-way traffic. In addition, public school buses from the Three Village Central School District cannot enter the area. Instead, children must walk to designated bus stops at Quaker Path, Cedar Street or Christian Avenue.

Following the Aug. 23 meeting, the ZBA adjourned its review of the prep school’s application until Sept. 20.

The property in question, outlined in blue, sits behind Village Automotive Service on North Country Road, 250 feet north of Route 25A. Image by Town of Brookhaven Board of Zoning Appeals

At the April 27 Town of Brookhaven Board of Zoning Appeals public hearing, a decision about property at 63 N. Country Road, Setauket, was put on hold until its next meeting, May 25.

Known by many in the area as the former Caropelo property, the current applicant, listed as 63 N. Country Road LLC, c/o Jennifer Leeds with a P.O. box in Coram, is seeking several variances on the 3.3-acre property on the east side of North Country Road and north of Route 25A.

The owner is seeking approval to subdivide the 144,452 square-foot parcel into four lots. The proposal is to build single-family residences on each plot after the division of the property. The smaller parcels of land will range from 32,648 square feet to 40,000 square feet. A shared driveway for lots 1 through 3 would exit onto North Country Road and a second driveway for lot 4 would be from the town arterial.

The Three Village Civic Association recently sent to members a copy of a letter, written by Land Use Chairman Herb Mones and addressed to Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook), to notify them of the variance application.

According to the civic association, the wooded property adjacent to the Thompson-Detmer Farm and behind Village Automotive Center and the old phone company building is one of the few remaining open parcels of land along the Route 25A corridor.

In his letter, Mones summarized other points why the parcel “bears an ‘outsized’ significance”:

  • It is highly visible due to it bordering “our busiest roadway” — Route 25A.
  • It is part of the Old Setauket Historic District.
  • It has a natural grade/slope to the existing farmland that needs to be protected.
  • Any exit from this property is onto Brookhaven’s historic “first road” — North Country Road.

According to BZA planner, Christopher Wrede, during the April 27 meeting prior applications included lot divisions and a change of zone application to provide for J Business throughout the parcel in 2013. The current applicant purchased the property in 2021 and was not part of prior applications.

Wrede said 77.4% of the property is zoned for A-1 residence and the remaining is J Business. The most restrictive zoning classification, A-1 residence, would apply. Residence zoning requires lots of at least 40,000 square feet and three of the four lots do not meet the requirement.

The town’s Historic District Advisory Committee had an opportunity to review the application, and one of the recommendations was a cluster plan to help prevent “suburban sprawl.” Such a plan means building homes closer together to preserve more open space.

At the BZA meeting, attorney Larry Davis represented Leeds and answered some concerns and board members’ questions. Wrede said during the meeting the Environmental Assessment Form had inaccuracies regarding wetlands near the property. Davis said the owner reached out to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and it is believed that nearby wetlands do not affect the property.

Davis said the three lots that do not meet the square-footage criteria do not have a detrimental effect on the nearby neighborhood. He said there is more than sufficient frontage on Route 25A, and the owner doesn’t want to access the state road, which the NYS Department of Transportation will not allow.

Davis also said regarding an alternative plan that Wrede created, the owner wasn’t opposed to the property being divided into three lots and moving two houses closer.

Mones, in a phone interview, said civic association members are concerned because, despite prior development proposals by previous owners being brought to the attention of the civic association or Brookhaven Planning Board, this one wasn’t. While it is not required, it gives either the civic association or Planning Board an opportunity to weigh in and provide better options if necessary. Mones said, currently, proposals such as this one that involves four houses or less “jumps right from a developer’s sketch pad right to the board of zoning appeals for approval” in Brookhaven.

Mones said the civic association would like to see the best use of the property with the least impact to the 25A corridor.

“We see over and over again developers looking to build what is a traditional suburban sprawl or footprint on parcels of land that are better served if the houses were placed a little bit closer together and most of the land left open,” Mones said, adding the best resolution would be to preserve and protect it as part of the Thompson legacy.