Full agenda at Islip Planning Board meeting
ISLIP TOWN—The most contested item during last week’s planning board meeting was an applicant’s request for a zoning change in order to construct 16 apartments on the corner of Sunrise Highway and Hyman Avenue.
Patrick Curtis, from Suffolk Realty Group, while trying to make the case for these apartments, gave a long, detailed history of the property and the family that owned it before his agency made the recent purchase. Curtis said apartments, as opposed to newly constructed houses, would be the most viable option for the property.
Curtis said the apartments would be marketed towards “young professionals” who rely on transportation services like Lyft and Uber. This, he said, would prevent whatever increases in traffic that local residents might be concerned about.
Residents, however, weren’t having it. Numerous speakers pointed out that while the evening’s agenda said the property is located in Bay Shore, the area being discussed is actually in West Islip. Lynn Luttenberger, vice chairperson of the West Islip Association, spoke on behalf of the group’s chairperson, Joseph DeCarlo, against the project.
Luttenberger stated that the proposed apartments weren’t “in keeping with the community,” adding “overconcentration decreases the quality of life.” She also said her organization holds the belief that renters don’t have the same vested interest in a given community the same way homeowners do. In addition, Luttenberger expressed concern that realtors buying homes and tearing them down to make room for developments could become a new norm.
Joe Gusmano, a 19-year-old resident who lives in close proximity to the proposed site, said that as a younger person—the target demographic for a development like this—he finds the project to be “very unappealing.”
Gusmano said that as someone who mainly walks from point A to point B, he worries about the safety of pedestrians. He also gave his opinion that the likelihood of potential renters relying solely on transportation services is unlikely, as they can be rather expensive. Numerous residents agreed with this notion, adding that driving one’s own car is the preferred form of transportation on Long Island.
Both Gusmano’s parents, Steve and Candy, who have lived in the neighborhood for over 20 years, also spoke out against the project, as did Rocco Pepe from West Islip Beautification Society.
After the public portion went on for about an hour, Curtis withdrew the request, saying that his agency would look into alternative uses for the property.
Several residents who opposed the apartments also waited to hear the results of a decision item that was proposed last year. The applicant previously put in a request to modify a Mobile gas station in Bay Shore, located at 236 Bay Shore Avenue.
The modifications included updated gas pumps and several additional parking spaces at the location. This publication covered the proposal in the article “Bolla asks for modifications,” published on Aug. 23, 2018. Bolla EM Realty LLC, which represented the applicant, also requested a special permit for a convenience store at the location. The project, according to our previous report, would have cost between $3.5 and $4 million.
The last time the site’s covenants were updated was in 1970.
David Altman, a Bolla representative, told the planning board last week that the modification of covenants was necessary for the business because of the changes the gas station industry has undergone in recent decades. Altman tried to make the point that in the past, gas stations primarily had gas pumps and maybe a service area. But today, most gas stations have a convenience store, he said.
Numerous residents previously expressed concerns about a number of topics pertaining to the proposed changes, including an increase in traffic at the already dangerous Manor Lane intersection. Others explained that the new parking spaces would look directly into the doors and windows of houses across the street from the location. Michael Moriarty, a planning board member, asked the Bolla representative if anything has been done to rectify these concerns.
Altman said a 2-to-3-foot fence had been installed, along with planted shrubs.
In regard to the traffic situation, another planning board member, Brian Ferruggiari, said, “This isn’t your standard intersection,” adding that he doesn’t always rely on traffic study results, which, according to the applicant, found that additions to the gas station wouldn’t have an impact on current traffic levels. “I go by experience,” Ferruggiari said. He went on to say that the site doesn’t allow for retail and gave his opinion that this shouldn’t be changed.
Chairman Edward Friedland agreed before the board denied the applicant’s request.
One of the last items discussed was a recommendation item. Over the summer, Southside Hospital outlined some major additions, including the construction of a multi-story parking garage for employees. This publication went into further detail on the proposed expansion in the article “Southside’s growing,” published on July 12, 2018.
The additions require a zoning change from multiple different designations, including business and residential to a downtown development district.
Planning board member Tim Mattimore said he was born in Southside in 1946 when it was only two stories. Mattimore gave his opinion that the hospital has always been a good steward in the community and the board should do “what [it] can to accommodate Northwell Health.”
The planning board unanimously recommended approval of the application. The matter is scheduled for the next change of zone public hearing on Thursday, Feb. 28.
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