Is Port Jefferson Station a Target For Workforce Housing Projects?

Residents say plans to build affordable housing in hamlet will cripple schools.

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.

John March 23, 2012 at 01:58 PM
"Workforce housing is generally understood to mean affordable housing for households with earned income that is insufficient to secure quality housing in reasonable proximity to the workplace" -Wikipedia Like many of the quotes above, I don't understand where this "workforce" is going to work. Local businesses are closing left and right. All this appears to accomplish is cramming more tax payers into an already crowded space.
Rich Murdocco March 23, 2012 at 08:47 PM
“Affordable” housing is a separate policy issue that is not directly linked to the availability of employment. A good idea is to take inventory of foreclosed units across Suffolk and converting them into subsidized housing units for young professionals or others who need assistance. The Carmans Plan, an environmental protection effort that has recommendations rooted in hydrogeologic studies, seeks to transfer development from the 100-year watershed to appropriate sites distributed across Brookhaven. These potential (and I stress the word potential) receiving sites were selected by a process that assessed the how appropriate a location was (based on a scorecard). If a development was to be proposed for a receiving site, it would receive the same scrutiny as an “as-of-right” development, still requiring going through the stringent SEQRA process, being approved by the Town Board, and if necessary, review by the Suffolk County Planning Commission. It is understandable why communities fear “high density” housing, and the potential impacts that development brings to their area. What is needed is an understanding of the planning and development process, and community participation that goes beyond outcry. Communities should get involved from the beginning of the process, in this case, early in 2010. The upcoming March 29th vote is not for acceptance of the Carmans Plan itself, but rather, a greenlight for the public and town board to review and alter the plan.
David Tesser March 24, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Port jefferson station needs help! It is an eye-sore to the community.
Americanivory March 24, 2012 at 11:01 AM
Let's call it what it is - low-income housing!! There is no "work force", as there are no jobs. Just what PJS needs in addition to the homeless roaming our streets, is low income housing - why are we letting Port Jefferson Station and Terryville becoming a slum? We need to stop the people who are letting this happen, and stop them NOW!!! We will be the north shore version of Brentwood/Central Islip/Bayshore - it needs to stop. No low income (under the guise of work force} housing - get rid of the homeless and vagrants and let this town go back to what it used to be - a lovely middle class neighborhood where you could enjoy living and not be afraid, or pay exorbitant taxes for those who don't pay into the system!!!!!
David Forgione March 24, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Multi-family dwelling, aka high density or workforce housing receives preferential tax treatement under NYS Law and generally pay about 25% per apt/unit of what a homeowner pays.
John March 24, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Americanivory, I feel the same way. I recently discovered what has become my new favorite number: 852-COPS. It is SCPD's non-emergency hotline. Like 911-Lite. I have a constant issue with people treating the woods behind my house like a motocross arena. A large part of your exorbitant taxes go to the PD, you might as well put them to work around here. Rich, I can't pretend to know a lot about the Carmans plan, although I have been trying to learn more about it since sites down the street from my home were named. I currently live in affordable housing a stone's throw from the sites and there are plenty of vacancies in my complex. If anyone actually wanted to buy affordable housing on 112 there probably wouldn't be so many units for sale/rent in here. To be honest, if anyone were buying over here I'd be long gone and happily paying ridiculous Three Village taxes to be away from all this nonsense. I can tell you exactly what "affordable housing" attracts over here. In 7 years my cars have been repeatedly broken into or vandalized. I know of a couple drug dealers. Just a week ago someone pulled a shotgun on a cab driver not a mile from me (reported on Patch). The police occasionally drop by looking for the previous tenant of my place. I could go on all day if there wasn't a character limit on posts. I welcome any improvement, but PJ Station needs a miracle.
Rich Murdocco March 24, 2012 at 08:44 PM
John- thanks for reading my post. I do respect your desire to make it a better place. As a resident who possesses nuanced, "on-the-ground" knowledge of the area, I definitely feel that your participation in local government would be very valuable for the community as a whole. Dialogues such as these are essential for crafting sound policy.
Judy Pepenella March 24, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Residents of Port Jefferson, make sure you look very carefully at this "oh shiny" project as it can get very dingy very quickly. Before this plan goes forward make sure you are prepared for the glut of traffic/auto over flow and have enough parking spaces allotted per unit. Make sure all current facts and NOT projected numbers are considered before any decision is made. An example of Oh Shiny is the 4 corners project in Patchogue Village. Yes, we need to do something there but the project is bigger than the area can handle. Simple math. 291 apartments & additional businesses to be built. Each apartment will have 1.4 parking spots. Consider current models - the traffic flow & parking needs will increase at a MINIMUM of 291 cars each day. With the average 2 person unit having 2 cars that means 400 additional cars a day. Where will all these cars park when there will only be 1.4 slips per apartment & a few approximately 100 plus spots for the new businesses? BTW businesses & residents will have to fight for night parking (they are bringing in restaurants to feed these folks. My point is everyone has to use REAL vision in redevelopment of any type that will be better for the community as a whole, not just a developer.
John March 25, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Judy, one thing I do know a lot about is 347. I wasted countless hours of my life sitting in traffic on that road, so I started reading up on it. There have been numerous ecological studies over the years and there is a potential plan to turn it into what they call a "greenway." One of the more interesting parts of the plan is that if the road isn't altered by 2020, they predict it will take over two hours to travel the 14.5 mile stretch from NSP to 25a. Rich, I joined Patch as a first step in getting involved in the community and I'm always looking for ways to do more than just complain on a website. A quick search of MLSLI for condos and co-ops in PJ Station brought back 44 units for sale in town. 17 are listed for under 100k, and another eight under 150k. That's 25 pretty affordable houses in town just waiting to be purchased by the existing workforce. Some of my neighbors have had their condos on the market for so long I wonder if I'll ever be able to sell, even at a loss. I have to ask, in the time of a national housing crisis, is building more houses really the answer?
Mariah A. March 26, 2012 at 04:42 AM
The area around Port Jeff Station on 112 is becoming loaded with homeless and drifters. I would say that Port Jeff is the homeless capitol of L.I.
Me March 26, 2012 at 02:46 PM
@ John I to have seen many houses for sale at good prices the problem is the LENDERS do not want to lend also with school and property taxes that pretty much EATS the AFFORDABLE aspect! No one will buy here this town has feel apart much thanks to activists and idiotic school districts allowing NON SPEAKING english undocumented into the schools, It almost seems these people are catered to. It not fair to others, You already have multi-ILEGAL family dwellings, workfare is needed close to transit not every one wants to buy a home in this falling apart town! I say build.
John March 26, 2012 at 03:58 PM
What Dave is saying above is true. The taxes on these units are significantly less than those of a normal house. I know this for a fact. So it's not cutting into the affordability of them at all. It's also the down side for the community. That means the people living in those units get to do things like go to school for a fraction of the cost of the owner of a stand alone home.
Mariah A. March 27, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Why are there so many illegal apartments in PJS? Maybe by building very cheap apartments there will be an option, instead of illegal rooming houses spread out through the area.
Bill Jones March 27, 2012 at 05:40 AM
Work force housing = crime, gangs, drugs and illegal aliens.
Fred March 27, 2012 at 04:44 PM
There are some serious issues in PJ/PJ Station, though I'm not sure if this development hurts or helps. To be sure, there is plenty of inventory of housing and (illegal) apartments in the area .I don't see a need for more, and true, "work force housing" is just another term for poor/low income housing. Still, I can't see this is worse than blight and bored up warehouses. I also can't see how more students/tax revenue could be a "burden" on the school district, but that's another topic all together. The taxes may be less proportionally, but so would be the unit/ student ratio, as large families tend to avoid small/cheap apartments. Plus, the apartments would be better regulated via lease agreements, as opposed to the illegal basement apartments which can have anyone coming and going.
John March 27, 2012 at 05:14 PM
From what I understand, this is not planned to be an apartment building, but high density condo's or co-ops. Students wont be buying any of these. Neither will the illegals who live in the existing illegal apartments. But the issue remains that "affordable" housing will attract trash. As a former student, and someone who bought a condo in my 20's, I can say with certainty that no one wants to be the neighbor of students or twentysomethings either. You'd think that if so many residents know about illegal people, illegal apartments, gangs, etc so would the proper authorities...but here we are.
Sheila McCarthy Granito March 28, 2012 at 03:19 AM
We need to truly "plan" this time around. Development should be centered around transportation oriented areas and industry must find it's way to Suffolk County. I think Port Jefferson Station/Terryville is a community worth saving. Let's plan correctly this time and not allow developers and their legal minions to dictate what we need. Join the Civic Association and attend Town Board meetings. Power to the People. Let's save the 6% of wooded areas we have left.
Deborah .G March 29, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Denise Longh March 31, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Okay, 1- Does anyone know how much money is given to our elected officials from the builders for donations? 2- Let us do an independent study of how many apartments will actually be needed in PJS over the next year, 5 years, 10 years. Even if we have to go door to door in PJS, we can get our own data. We should not listen to the data the builders are giving us. One study they used was from NJ back in 2006, but, hey, it was data in the builders favor so it was used.?! And the town board used this???? 3- Who is going to be moving in? Every apartment complex is currently vacant and the rents are lower than what these so called "affordable housing" projects will cost. It is time the citizens stand up against personal agendas and make sure our elected officials are doing the right thing by the people who actually live in the towns they are planning changes in, Otherwise, let's tell them to plan in their own towns and leave us alone.
peter May 21, 2012 at 11:14 PM
Wow-What a interesting article and i did enjoy the comments made by the various individuals.You have definitely made me take a second look at what is being proposed


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