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Winmar Homes

Image of proposed development, right, from the Planning Board’s webpage.

By Jonathan Kornreich

Numerous residents and organizations within my council district have expressed concerns to my office regarding the Winmar Homes application to develop the southeast corner of Pond Path and Upper Sheep Pasture Road in East Setauket. The current proposal is for an eight-lot residential subdivision on 6.63 acres, along with a recharge basin and the construction of a cul-de-sac into the development from Upper Sheep Pasture Road.

Setauket is one of the oldest areas in the Town of Brookhaven with historic sites from the American Revolutionary War time period and older. Directly across the street from the Selleck property is the Merritt-Hawkins House — at 512 Pond Path, East Setauket — a town-owned property and one of the earliest homes in Setauket, originally belonging to the Hawkins family. The property was designated a Brookhaven landmark in April 2005 and was added to the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places in August 2007. Immediately adjacent to the Merritt-Hawkins House is Nassakeag Elementary School. The Selleck property is one of the oldest farms in the area and, together with Merritt-Hawkins House, formed the Merritt-Hawkins Homestead, a significant part of our local history. 

The community and my office have made several requests relating to this property, including an appeal to save the old Selleck farmhouse or clustering the houses to make room for open space preservation. The most urgent of these requests, however, and the one which has spurred the greatest alarm within the community, is the proposed siting of a recharge basin, or sump, on the highly visible corner of Upper Sheep Pasture Road and Pond Path.

Historically, the creation of sumps like this has been a common approach, resulting in over 1,300 sumps throughout the Town of Brookhaven. In addition to being a maintenance burden on the Highway Department and a consistent source of complaints from residents, these recharge basins do little to remediate the water being funneled back into our aquifers, especially with respect to the removal of nitrogen and other substances.

Other solutions to stormwater management are available. The practice of Low Impact Development incorporates an “all of the above” strategy which includes rain gardens, bioswales, permeable surfaces and dry wells, elements which are meant to recreate and enhance natural processes. By reducing the movement of water across paved surfaces, these elements assist in the prevention and capture of surface contaminants before they flow back into a sump, whose sole function is to get water back underground as quickly as possible.

Clearly, practices such as LID require a nuanced approach which is sensitive to each site’s specific topography, soil composition and other factors. I will continue to advocate for the adoption of this more thoughtful approach, both on the Selleck site and as a part of the town’s planning process going forward.

Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine [R] has been highly supportive of this approach and has facilitated discussions with professionals in Town Hall to explore other options. There is no question that a sump is only one of several modalities for managing stormwater runoff, and we are hoping that more time is set aside to study this issue and develop a strategy that all stakeholders will be comfortable with. 

The town Planning Board is an independent body, and members of the Town Council cannot exert undue influence over their deliberations, but I cannot remain silent while the wishes of the community I represent are overlooked. My hope is that the developer and the Planning Board will come together to create a site plan which is mutually acceptable to all stakeholders, including the residents.

Jonathan Kornreich [D] is town councilmember for Brookhaven’s District 1 and has experience in the home construction industry.

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Image of proposed development, right, from the Planning Board’s webpage.

On the agenda for the Town of Brookhaven Planning Board June 6 meeting is an eight-lot preliminary subdivision with cul-de-sac and drainage basin located at the southeast corner of Pond Path and Upper Sheep Pasture Road in East Setauket.

A decision on the application submitted by Anthony Martino, president of Winmar Homes based in Ronkonkoma, was tabled at the planning board’s May 16 meeting.

The approximately 6 1/2 acre property, zoned as residential, is one that the Three Village Civic Association has been keeping an eye on. At a meeting earlier this year, members were given an update on the parcel. According to the civic’s land use chair, Herb Mones, the wish is that a “more responsible site development can be submitted.”

Known locally as the Selleck property, Mones said it is the last local farm south of Route 25A. On the property is a 1920s farmhouse that the civic wants protected and not demolished. Members also hope that the newly built homes will be clustered, leaving more than 2 acres to be preserved.

Last year it was determined that the property was sufficient for nine lots according to L.K. McLean Associates of Brookhaven.

The Brookhaven Highway Department, in a letter to the planning division last year, made several recommendations, including curbing and sidewalks on Pond Path and Upper Sheep Pasture Road and removing/replacing the existing curb on Pond Path at the intersection.

Last November, representatives from the Three Village Civic Association met with developers.

According to the civic, the parcel, which is near Nassakeag Elementary School and the town-owned Merritt-Hawkins House, was once part of the Merritt-Hawkins farmland.

The Town of Brookhaven Planning Board meeting can be viewed on the town’s website, www.brookhavenny.gov, or attended in person. The meeting begins at 4 p.m. on June 6.