By Samantha Rutt
Following adjournment from the previous Town of Brookhaven Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, The Stony Brook School’s application for expansion was approved Wednesday, Sept. 20, with some modifications.
Amid public scrutiny, the school altered its plans to expand, eliminating the proposed indoor practice facility.
“We want to be good neighbors, we really do,” Joshua Crane, head of The Stony Brook School, said. “The idea that just because we can, didn’t really sit well with us. So when we came up with the idea of this new building, we proposed it out in a particular portion of our campus — that ultimately would have an impact on neighbors from a height and size perspective.”
The boarding and day school’s original plan included the construction of three new buildings on the campus, including a sizable indoor practice facility, reaching a height of 46 feet and a floor area ratio of 35,000 square feet, along with a new dormitory building and STEM building.
Leading up to Wednesday’s meeting, nearby residents voiced concern about the school’s plan, alleging it would decrease property values and increase traffic.
“Local real estate agents suggest my property value will decrease … especially if there is a huge metal building constructed in what is basically my backyard,” said Stony Brook resident Jenny Lorenzen.
Several residents attended Wednesday’s ZBA meeting, hoping the school would uphold its promise to do away with the indoor practice facility. At the meeting, the prep school’s lawyer, Eric J. Russo, had a sidebar conversation with neighborhood representatives, promising to uphold the updated plans.
Crane spoke about the updated plan for constructing a facility to adequately house the school’s program needs.
“We’ve gone back to the drawing board, and we’re looking at a different area of campus,” he said. “That will basically give us about a third of the size that we had originally proposed but still meet our program needs because athletics is becoming more and more important here.”
Residents’ primary concerns were consistent with the size of the proposed sports facility and the addition of entry and exit routes that could add traffic to existing narrow roadways in the neighborhood.
“Bottom line is I do not want this project to affect our neighborhood roads,” said Anne Ryan, a Stony Road resident for over 40 years. “I understand the need to update the campus, but it should not affect our peaceful neighborhood.”
Following the outcome, former opponents of the project expressed their relief. “I am thankful,” Lorenzen said of the newly updated plans. “I am hopeful for the continuation of tranquility and peace in our lovely Stony Brook neighborhood.”