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Town of Brookhaven

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The planned site for a new office building in Port Jefferson station includes a single building and an empty lot. Photo from Google Maps

Port Jefferson Station, even despite the pandemic, is building up.

Design plans for the new 31,000 square foot medical office building in Port Jefferson Station. Photo from TOB meeting

Brookhaven approved two applications Sept. 17, one for a new 31,000 square feet office building where an existing retail shop stands, and another to add an additional  structure to an existing medical park, both in Port Jefferson Station.

Applicants from S.W.M LLC, whose principal officer is named as Wayne Rampone Jr., the vice president and co-owner of the Ramp Motors dealership in Port Jefferson Station, were granted a change of zoning on the currently empty 2.3 acre parcel located at 43 Jayne Boulevard. The previous zoning was J-2 Business and B-1 Residential, and is now J-4 Business, allowing for the construction of a $4 million two story, 31,342 square foot medical office building at the site.

Site plans show a frontage of evergreens facing the road, and 165 parking stalls to complement the new structure. The planned building is across the street from Neptune Pools and borders Smith Point Fence to the north and the Fairfield apartment complex to the west. 

The other project, one from the M&R Stony Brook medical park located at the corner of Route 112 and Birchwood Drive, was granted a request to revise covenants to extend the second floor space of one existing medical building and create a whole new 20,485 square foot building on the southwest corner of the property. That new building is planned for vacant land that was at one point planned for a bank of a much smaller footprint. Estimated cost for construction is $15 million.

The property is bordered by the Sagamore Hills condominium complex directly to the south.

Developers for both projects went in front of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association July 29 during the group’s first in-person meeting in months, held outside the PJS/T chamber train car at the corner of Routes 112 and 347. The civic released letters of no objection for both projects to the town board.

During the meeting, Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) asked the applicant to be reminded of the 30-foot buffer along the western end of the property, where they will eventually plant evergreens as a screen between the new building and Fairfield residents. Attorney for both proposed developments Timothy Shea Jr., of the Hauppauge-based CertilmanBalin law firm, said he had no objection to the requirement.

Photo from Town of Brookhaven

Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Daniel P. Losquadro has announced that the Holtsville Ecology Site and Animal Preserve will reopen to the public on Monday, Sept. 28.

Brookhaven residents are required to make free, online reservations at www.BrookhavenNY.gov/Ecology to book a visit to the Animal Preserve. Only Town of Brookhaven residents with reservations and proof of residency will be permitted to enter for now; masks are required, as well. COVID-19 safety precautions, limited admissions and social distancing measures will be in place to ensure the safety of all visitors and staff.

The Animal Preserve will be open Monday through Friday with eight sessions available for reservations each day: 9 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 1:15 p.m., 1:45 p.m., and 2:15 p.m. The Animal Preserve will be closed for cleaning and sanitizing in between the morning and afternoon sessions.

The Information Center and greenhouses will not be open; access to bathrooms will be available. The Animal Preserve will be open from the main entrance through the Eagle exhibit. Animals available for viewing at this time include alpaca, Arctic fox, Bald eagle, bobcat, Boer goats, buffalo, coatimundi, hybrid fox, hybrid wolves, llama, mini pigs, Nubian goats, other goats, pine marten, prairie dogs, rabbits, red fox, red tail hawk, and skunk.

The Ecology Site is located at 249 Buckley Road, Holtsville. For more information, call 631-758-9664.

Lifeguards at West Meadow Beach made a quick save of one of the North Shore's most beautiful local hawks. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

Lifeguards at West Meadow Beach recently proved their willingness to protect any living thing in distress.

Town of Brookhaven said in a release that lifeguards stationed at West Meadow Beach spotted a large bird in the water that appeared to be in distress. As the lifeguards approached, they realized the bird was not a waterfowl, as originally suspected, but a much larger Osprey that had become entangled in thick fishing line with a weighted sinker. The bird could not fly and was on the verge of drowning as it panicked to stay afloat in the water. 

Town lifeguards maneuvered a rescue surfboard underneath the bird, which allowed its head to remain above water and provide it with something firm to grasp. Brookhaven’s Environmental Educator, Nicole Pocchiare, was called to the scene to aid in the rescue and was able to get the bird into a box for transport to the Middle Island Save the Animals Foundation location with the help of lifeguards on duty. The veterinarian at STAR handled the large, taloned bird while clearing the wire, flushing the wound and checking for injuries. The bird was released back near his nest at West Meadow Beach after being cleared by the veterinarian. 

“I commend the lifeguards for their quick action to save this beautiful bird’s life,” said Brookhaven town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R). “Please remember not to leave fishing line, lures, or wire on the beach or in the water. Litter and debris pose a threat to the health and safety of wildlife and marine life that call our beaches home.”

Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) was also impressed by the lifeguards’ quick thinking.

“Thank you to the lifeguards who came to the rescue of this osprey,” Cartwright said. “I am impressed by their quick thinking and ingenuity. Osprey are a valued part of the West Meadow Beach ecosystem, and I appreciate that these lifeguards went above and beyond to save the life of this important species. I also want to extend my thanks to our Environmental Educator, Nicole Pocchiare, and those at STAR for playing a part in this rescue. I encourage everyone to use fishing line recovery receptacles to properly dispose of this material that can cause devastating consequences to our cherished wildlife.”

 

Though the Setauket Patriots said their Fourth of July parade held in Port Jeff was an a-political event, a few cars like this military-style Jeep rolled down Main Street bearing “Trump 2020” paraphernalia. Photo by David Luces

The Setauket Patriots, a sometimes-controversial online conservative group, announced they plan to hold a 9/11 parade in Port Jefferson, even though this time they lack the village’s approval. 

The planned march, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 12, would take people from the train station all the way down to the 9/11 memorial across from Port Jefferson Village Hall, next to the marina parking lot. The village has not granted a permit for the march, but the group plans to go anyway. 

“This is about trying to follow the mandates.”

— Margot Garant

The Facebook page for the event states the event is planned because New York City, along with Suffolk and Nassau counties, have declined to hold public 9/11 ceremonies because of the pandemic. The patriots, a known pro-Trump group, said the event “is not a Trump rally but a 9/11 never-forget-our-first-responders event.” Organizers said they expect anywhere from 150 to 200 participants.

This is not the first event the group has decided to host in Port Jeff. When hundreds marched down Main Street in Port Jefferson for a Black Lives Matter march in June, the Setauket Patriots hosted a Fourth of July car parade in response. Both the protest march and Patriots parade received permits after discussions with village officials, which created changes of time and place for both events. This time, the conservative group filed for a permit but they claim their request was denied Friday, Aug. 28.

Village Attorney Brian Egan said an executive order signed July 6 by Mayor Margot Garant effectively stopped the village from signing any new permits for marches or protests. The order was enabled by the village’s previous declaration of emergency because of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time it was signed, Garant said the permits for such protests and parades had been “a mistake” because of the ongoing pandemic.

In regards to any further action taken by the village, Egan said nothing would be enforced by Port Jeff’s constables, and it would instead fall on the Suffolk County Police Department. In response to whether the village plans any further action against the group if it does host its parade, he again reiterated that Port Jeff’s clerk would no longer be issuing permits for any kind of march.

Garant said that beyond the moratorium on permits, the application the group filed had been incomplete and was rejected for that as well. She added the purpose of no longer allowing groups of more than 50 to gather is an attempt to comply with state orders trying to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

“It has nothing to do with who they are and what they’re doing,” she said. “This is about trying to follow the mandates.”

The mayor said the village has contacted Suffolk County police as well as state police about the planned march. They have also contacted the Town of Brookhaven, since the 9/11 memorial is technically on town-owned land. She advised that the group should try and communicate with the town instead to devise some kind of ceremony.

A spokesperson for the Setauket Patriots, who asked he not be named because of fear of being outed online, called the village’s decision to not allow any more parades unfair, considering the village has started hosting its Harborfront Park movie nights once again, though these are hosted by the village itself and therefore do not require permits.  

“We’re helping Mr. Dooley, and it’s the only reason we’re having it in Port Jeff.”

— Setauket Patriots

The Setauket Patriots leader reiterated that the planned march was planned to be apolitical. He said it was planned after conversations with Daniel Dooley, a New York City Fire Department lieutenant who helped construct the Port Jeff 9/11 memorial. Dooley normally hosts a vigil at the memorial site to commemorate 9/11. He was also described as a member of the group.

“We’re helping Mr. Dooley, and it’s the only reason we’re having it in Port Jeff,” the Setauket Patriots rep said.

Efforts to contact Dooley went unsuccessful as of press time.

A few other 9/11-based events usually happen within the village to commemorate that fateful day in 2001. The Port Jefferson Fire Department normally hosts its own ceremony, and last year the Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America hosted a candlelight vigil in Harborfront Park. 

Tom Totten, the PJ fire district chairman of the fire commissioners, said they plan to host an in-house ceremony that’s not open to the public. Discussions are still ongoing whether the vigil will be recorded or livestreamed.

Other 9/11 events on the North Shore have been postponed or changed to meet the challenges of the pandemic. The usual Setauket Fire Department 9/11 event will not be open to the public and will instead be livestreamed. Other events, like the 9/11 memorial hosted in Shoreham by the Rocky Point Fire Department, are still up in the air.

Members of the Setauket Patriots group also took the lead in several controversial May protests in Commack calling for the end of the COVID-19 shutdowns. Their Facebook normally posts conservative and pro-president news, but their page also shares more posts that could well be described as inciting violence, such as videos of pro-Trump car paraders in Portland, Oregon, driving into and through counterprotesters and spraying them with pepper spray with captions like, “Bear spray is the new bug spray!” 

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. File photo by Alex Petroski

A Confederate flag displayed on the side of a Brookhaven Fire Department truck has caused outcry from multiple levels of government and many in the surrounding community.

This photo has gone viral on social media showing a Brookhaven Fire Department ladder truck sporting the Confederate battle flag.

A picture of the Confederate battle standard draped on the side of a ladder truck from the Brookhaven hamlet, showed up on social media where it went viral Sunday, Aug. 30. Many who saw it complained that it was a display of racism, especially in light of recent national dialogue about its use by white supremacists and the history of the Confederacy’s promotion of slavery.

In a statement, Brookhaven FD Chief of Department Peter Di Pinto said that the action was not authorized by the department and was done without its knowledge. The statement says the incident involved one firefighter acting alone during a non-response event. Di Pinto said the matter is currently under investigation, and therefore couldn’t release any further details.

“We can assure our community that ‘Racism has no home in our firehouse,’” the statement read.

That event was reportedly a fire truck parade in Patchogue to support a firefighter with cancer. Other department vehicles were present at the event though none other than the Brookhaven truck reportedly appeared with the Confederate flag.

While the The Town of Brookhaven and the Brookhaven Fire Department are separate entities, the town was also quick to condemn the flag.

“The Town Board condemns the display of this symbol of racism and hatred in the strongest possible terms and is calling for this fire department to launch an investigation into this matter and take immediate and serious action in response,” the town said in a statement. “Brookhaven town has been built upon a history of inclusion and diversity. Our cemeteries contain the graves of men who gave their lives fighting against this flag. This flag is a symbol of hatred, and there is no place for it, or the racism it displays, in our town.”

While on Facebook County Executive Steve Bellone (D) thanked the fire department for looking into the matter, he said that he was calling on the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission and New York State Division of Human Rights to also investigate the incident.

“The public also must have confidence that any review of this matter is handled independently to ensure a fair and impartial outcome,” Bellone said in a statement. “Hate and bigotry have no place in Suffolk County and we must demonstrate that we take these matters seriously.”

Brookhaven intends on completing the North Country Road repaving, having recently come close to finishing a section in Miller Place. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Town of Brookhaven has come close to  finishing a single section of a much larger project along North Country Road.

This past weekend, Brookhaven finished paving and painting the lines along North Country Road in Miller Place from Honey Lane to the Miller Place Duck Pond, over to the entrance to the Laddie A. Decker School on Lower Rocky Point Road. The new resurfacing includes fixing the drainage along the side of the road and the installation of sidewalk and curbing. The new road and sidewalks pass in front of several area staples like the Town & Country Market, McNulty’s Ice Cream Parlor and the William Miller House.

According to the town Highway Department and Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R), the North Country Road Highway project is actually a combination of three separate capital improvement projects. 

The New York State Department of Transportation grant received by the Highway Department funded 60% of the “complete streets” portion of this project, which is the new paving in Miller Place. The contractor responsible for this section of the project should complete their work within the next few weeks. This part of the project came now in order to finish before schools reopened in September.

The second section of this project was the sidewalk and curb installation on North Country Road that was completed in 2019 from the entrance to the Laddie Decker School to Echo Avenue. The Highway Department resurfaced that section of North Country Road Aug. 6.

The final section of this project is North Country Road from Washington Avenue to Route 25A in Sound Beach. Highway crews are completing the preparation work on this stretch of road this week, with the milling and resurfacing of this section to be completed within the next few weeks.

The Brookhaven Highway Department has included in its 2021 budget request to install a significant amount of drainage infrastructure on North Country Road from Pipe Stave Hollow Road to Honey Lane to remove the water from the roadway. Once the drainage work is complete, that final section of roadway will be resurfaced.

This will complete the paving of North Country Road from the Village of Port Jefferson border to Route 25A at the Rocky Point/Miller Place border.

In July, the town announced the finalized resurfacing of Lower Rocky Point Road from Woodhull Landing Road to Rocky Point Landing Road, as well as Hagerman Landing Road. The town is also currently active milling 37 roadways all over Sound Beach. Once milling is complete at a near future date, weather permitting, all roads will be resurfaced. 

Final details about the North Country Road project, including the total cost, grant funding and photos will be available when the project comes to completion in the next few months.

Supervisor Ed Romaine (right) and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (left) met with Colleen Kelly on July 21 at Brookhaven Town Hall in Farmingville to congratulate her for winning First Prize in the Connecticut Fund for the Environment’s Save the Sound photo contest.

The winning photo (on right) was taken at the Town of Brookhaven’s Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai. A resident of Middle Island, Ms. Kelly is pictured with her son, Caedyn, who is her “photo assistant” and a frequent subject of his mother’s photographs. 

“Cedar Beach is a great location to shoot pictures and Colleen proved that with her stunning, prize winning photograph. It illustrates the need to do whatever we can to preserve and protect the Long Island Sound and our beautiful shoreline for everyone to enjoy,” said Councilwoman Bonner .

“I congratulate Colleen for her outstanding photograph and thank her for showing everyone just how beautiful our north shore landscape is. It also reinforces why we must take good care of the environment and encourage children like Caedyn to preserve our precious natural resources,” added Supervisor Romaine.

The mission of “Save the Sound” is to protect and improve the land, air and water of Connecticut and Long Island Sound. Visit www.savethesound.org for more info

A surprised rooster finds itself abandoned in the Heritage Park playground. Photo by Floridia

Four roosters, two adults and two young, were found abandoned in the Heritage Park playground Aug. 21. Town workers, police and animal rescue groups responded to take the animals away and give them sanctuary outside the town.

A Brookhaven town worker holds a fence up as animal rescuer Frankie Floridia takes them away. Photo from Floridia

Visitors to Heritage Park reported on social media finding the roosters Friday morning. Suffolk County Police were notified, and upon calling the North Shore-based Strong Island Rescue League around 10 a.m. a town worker was able to corral the animals into a corner of the playground while Frankie Floridia, the president of Strong Island, picked them up to put them in cages and transport them away. 

Floridia said the animals will either go to an animal sanctuary, or to families who wish to take care of them in townships where it is legal to own roosters.

The animal rescuer said there is a major issue in the Town of Brookhaven with people illegally abandoning animals such as domestic ducks in local ponds, but especially roosters. Mail order chickens have become an increasingly popular business, though some do not specify whether the chickens are male or female. The animal rescuer said they have come to calls for several abandoned roosters in Brookhaven over the past few years.

“What the people do, rather than get a fine is they go ahead and dump them,” Florida said. “The problem is dumping them, they can’t survive on their own in the wild. They are easy prey for predators, they get hit by cars, they have no food source. It’s a slow torturous death for them.”

Some online questioned whether the animals were runaways from the small farm just around the corner from The Wedge, aka Heritage Park. The roosters indeed did not come from Niegocki Farms, off of Mount Sinai Coram Road, but that small little taste of agriculture life on the North Shore has had major issues with people dumping chickens onto their property. 

Tricia Niegocki, of Niegocki Farms, said that they have had six occasions in the past few years where they found roosters dumped on their property. This includes an incident where an unknown individual dumped 26 hens over their fence “in the dead heat of summer” of about 95 degrees. 

“Anyone who knows us knows if it’s in our capabilities to be able to take hens off someone’s hands or help where we can,” Niegocki said. “By dumping them it was a three day ordeal in trying to catch them and pen them up in a pen we had to rush to get ready for them.”

Though the farm is often asked personally to look after chickens, especially roosters, another major issue with dumping roosters is the risk of disease spreading amongst a flock. This is especially concerning for a farm, which depends on those chickens as part of their livelihood, though leaving them to fend for themselves would only invite 

The farmer said the town code is partly to blame for the number of people who abandon these animals.

“A person’s dog can bark all day and night but a rooster is unacceptable? She said. “I think the laws need to change to be more accommodating. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, having the ability to feed your family is very important and chickens provide not only eggs but also a source of meat.”   

Strong Island Animal Rescue can be contacted at [email protected] or through their Facebook page.

To donate to Strong Island visit: https://www.strongislandanimalrescueleague.org/pages/donate-today

For more on the Mount Sinai farm, visit http://www.niegockifarms.com/

*This post was updated Aug. 24 to add information from the local Niegocki Farms about their own experiences with abandoned roosters.

 

Stony Brook McDonald's is planned to be demolished and rebuilt to add a tandem drive through. Photo from Google Maps

McDonald’s was granted a change of zoning Thursday, Aug. 13, by the Brookhaven Town Board in order to raze one and restructure two other restaurants on the North Shore. Representatives of the fast-food chain said it was to add new tandem drive-throughs and make the buildings more Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.

The three McDonald’s locations include the ones in Rocky Point and Miller Place on Route 25A and the one in Stony Brook along Route 347. Stony Brook is set to be demolished and remade into a restaurant with a tandem drive-through. Engineers hired by McDonald’s said doing so will actually reduce the buildings’ overall footprint. 

The ones in Rocky Point and Miller Place will have signage changed and some extra work done on the exteriors. The two buildings will also be adding new ADA compliant walkways to allow better access to the buildings from the parking lots and sidewalks along Route 25A. 

All three were zoned J-2 Business, but a rules change in 2003 mandated all sites with a drive-through had to be zoned J-5 instead. To complete the renovations, McDonald’s needed to get approval of the zone change from the Town Board. All three were granted zoning change approval at the Aug. 13 meeting. 

Brookhaven officials said they received letters from the Three Village, Miller Place and Rocky Point civics indicating they did not have issues with the development. Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said during the meeting the Three Village civic did have some concerns when the project was originally proposed but those were resolved by the developer.

One resident of Strathmore Gate Drive in Stony Brook, a gated community, asked about trees buffering behind the local McDonald’s property. Developers said the site will have 7-foot evergreens as a way to block line of sight to the restaurant.

This sign outside of Bakewicz Farms caused some concern in the past month, though the planning board meeting was delayed. However property owners said they wouldn't move on any new development just yet. Photo by Kyle Barr

Landowners were unanimously granted approval of plans Aug. 17 by the Brookhaven Planning Board for a housing development on land in Wading River currently in use by the local Bakewicz Farms.

The preliminary plans revolve around 13 subdivisions for homes at the corner of Route 25A and Randall Road in Wading River. This is in addition to a recharge basin to be located at the westmost corner between the two roads. 

The Rocky Point-based Manzi family owns the property but is being represented by Rocky Point-based attorney Steven Losquadro. 

Losquadro said in a phone interview that the family is not immediately going with the housing development, but is instead “keeping their options open” regarding any future plans, whether or not it becomes a new housing development or something else. He did not wish to comment on the record about what future plans could be.

The site is currently being leased by Justin Bakewicz and his mother Marianne of Bakewicz Farms. The small 11-acre farm is active in the summer and autumn months supplying local produce, giving a place for children to pet a few farm animals and allowing children into their corn maze filled with cut out wood characters from pop culture such as Harry Potter and Buzz and Woody from “Toy Story.”  

Losquadro said the property owners are not at all immune to calls from the community for the farm’s preservation. Nothing has been officially determined yet.

“Many people in the community would like to see it preserved as a farm,” the attorney said.

Bakewicz did not wish to comment fully on the record about what could be happening in the future, but did mention there could be positive news coming down the pike.

“This is what I’ve been hoping for,” he said.

Last year property owners proposed putting down a large solar storage battery on an unused portion of the property. Those plans were opposed by the local civic groups, and Losquadro said at the time that without the solar battery the land could instead turn into a residential development. 

The preliminary plans themselves call for the creation of a new street that ends in a court called Dante Way. The road allows both a left and right turn onto Randall Road but no access onto Route 25A. Plans show the land redesigned for 13 single family homes, which would be located in the Shoreham-Wading River school district. The development also abuts the ongoing construction of the North Shore Rail Trail projects which when finished will create a 10-mile walking and bicycle path from Wading River to Mount Sinai.

Revised plans after comments from the planning board also maintain a 40-foot proposed buffer on the north end of the proposed development and a 75-foot buffer on the southern end. Both buffers would be granted to the town for open space purposes. In the proposed development, 10 feet off the western end would be left to the town for adding a real shoulder to the side of Randall Road.