Public opinions on the potential Hawthorne Avenue senior townhomes were mixed at a Islip Town Planning Board meeting Wednesday, Oct. 14.
Islip-based attorney Steve Bertolino and architect David Busch, of Busch Associates, led a presentation on the proposed Hawthorne Cottage Senior Living Community project prior to a public hearing on the application.
The applicant is asking for a change of zone from Residence A, Business 1 and Business 3 to Residence C to construct 16 senior townhomes on the 2.84-acre property located on the southwest corner of Hawthorne Avenue and Champlin Avenue.
Bertolino, representing applicant Leo Sagrestano, said the parcel is currently being used by contractors. Surrounded by a residential area, the property will “maintain its residential appeal,” he said.
As he presented renderings of the community, Busch noted that the single-story cottage units will be just under 1,100 square feet and will have a “craftsman-style” exterior. The smaller homes fall below the traditional two-story residential homes in the area.
Ann Marie Leschik, who resides on Woodland Street in East Islip, said Sagrestano’s construction projects have been “disruptive” in the community for the past five years.
“We cannot open the windows in the summer… even this time of year. We cannot sit outside on our patio because the beeping and the moving of the dirt is very disruptive,” Leschik said.
However, she said she “wholeheartedly” supports the project and hopes the board does, too. Leschik said she feels it would raise the property value in the neighborhood.
Pamela Fremgen, of Wildwood Court in East Islip, said the application is similar to the proposed Bayview Avenue Apartments in the area.
“Now that I’ve heard the presentation, it’s pretty much the same,” Fremgen said. Though she said she is not concerned with the zone change, she thinks this project is too large.
Bay Green Realty LLC is seeking a change of zone at 7 and 9 Bayview Avenue in East Islip from Residence A to Residence C in order to construct 16 cottage-style dwellings. Fremgen has publicly expressed concern for this project.
“I think we need to take a step back and look at the plans,” Fremgen said of the proposed Hawthorne units. “You’re trying to over-build in an area that should really be half of the amount of units.”
Janet Tierney, of Champlain Avenue, said the front of her home faces the parcel. She said she supports the project because the trucks and construction on the current parcel produce constant noise, especially in the morning. She believes the units would do away with the loud noise.
Greenwood Avenue resident Melinda Safrany noted that a study associated with the Bayview Avenue Apartments showed there is still vacant senior housing in the area. She asked if the rental cottages would ever be rented by full families.
Senior planner Sean Colgan confirmed that the homes would only be accessible to senior residents. If the applicant wanted to offer rentals to families, he would need to come before the planning board again.
Bertolino said an outreach representative went door-to-door in the residential area to inform the community about the project. He said he believes that the team met with members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, located at 65 Champlin Avenue, to discuss parking. The Hibernians parking lot may be shared with the potential Hawthorne units, he said.
The board reserved their decision and the application was not immediately approved. The board is expected to review public comments and speak with the applicant to hammer out minor details and reconvene publicly at the Nov. 12 Zoom meeting.