Port Jefferson Station has become ground zero in the debate over development of multifamily and workforce housing in Brookhaven Town as of late, according to residents and politicians.
Long Island is an expensive place to live. Many residents are concerned about ever-increasing property taxes, disappearing open spaces and the lack of quality employment prospects. Brain drain is a major worry as the Island’s youth flee the area for more affordable opportunities elsewhere. Young people just starting out complain that just aren’t viable options anymore.
On the other hand, building affordable, high density, workforce housing might be a Band-Aid solution that harms communities more than it helps. Community members in Port Jefferson Station have complained that adding rental apartment buildings does nothing but pack schools full of more kids with little in the way of revenue to pay for all the services the district must provide.
In October, . People said that the space could be put to better use while the developers claimed it would remain a blighted property if they were not allowed to build.
Recently, a plan to swap development rights from environmentally sensitive areas around the Carmans River to designated properties in Port Jefferson Station (among other areas in Brookhaven) was proposed at the March 6 Brookhaven Town Board meeting. .
Residents at both meetings had the same complaint: Where is the work that this workforce housing is supposed to support?
“What work force he is pertaining to?” asked Lance Brown of the developer’s plan for the Ramp Chevrolet property. “There are many houses for sale. To put a project like this in Port Jefferson Station, I question where that force is coming from.”
Another resident agreed saying that he didn’t think the community needed more housing.
“There are plenty of apartments in the price range of what this man wants to do,” said Kevin Henry. “We talk about keeping the young people here. It’s the jobs that keep the people here not the housing.”
At the meeting for the Carmans River plan, Port Jefferson Station resident, Tim Granito said he thinks Brookhaven has already been burdened with more than its fair share of workforce housing with Port Jefferson Station being particularly targeted for these types of projects.
“Within a quarter mile we have two proposed high density housing projects,” he said.
Granito said that developers are making money building workforce housing but there’s no place for the people who are going to occupy them to work.
“What employers are they bringing in?” he asked. “Where is this workforce required?”
Brookhaven Town Councilmam Steven Fiore-Rosenfeld has called the fact that the public had little to no input into the Carmans River Plan, “troubling.”
“This critical power for the public to weigh in with their duly elected town board would have all but been up ended by this plan,” he wrote in a letter to the community published on the Comsewogue School District website.
On the other side of the issue, planners and politicians say that the housing developments are warranted.
In an article written in the Port Times Record, Lee Koppelman, chairman of the Carmans River Study Group, said that study after study shows that multifamily housing is beneficial to communities.
"Multifamily housing in every single study has proven to be a tax plus, not a tax liability," the paper quoted him as saying. "This style of housing does not generally accommodate families, so the number of school children is far less than in single-family developments."
No easy solution presents itself with planners and community members sitting on either side of the issues, both with the same goal: preserve a high quality of life for those working and living on Long Island.
What do you think? Is Port Jefferson Station being unfairly targeted for high density, workforce housing? What is the solution to retaining young people while not overburdening the community and schools? What alternatives will create quality jobs and intelligent growth in Port Jefferson Station and its adjoining hamlets and villages?
We invite you to post your ideas and options in the comment section below.