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Lesko: Heatherwood in Port Jeff Station Off the Table in Carmans River Plan

Residents still concerned about use of credits to transfer development rights to build workforce housing.

A proposed plan to preserve land near the Carmans River by transferring development rights on those parcels to other properties around Brookhaven drew a crowd of angry residents to the Town Board meeting on Tuesday evening.

Port Jefferson Station residents were happy to ultimately learn that Heatherwood Golf Club was not on the list, although some other properties in the hamlet are still being considered.

Many showed up at Town Hall in Farmingville to protest the offering up of Heatherwood as eligible for development into high density housing to replace land in a core area around the Carmans River that Brookhaven needs to acquire. According to Town Councilman Steven Fiore-Rosenfeld “half of (the property) is in and half is in Three Village School District.”

Applause erupted from the packed room when Supervisor Mark Lesko said the golf club was not on the list of sites considered in the plan for development in exchange for acquired land in key areas near the river.

He did warn that the property owner of the golf course wants to explore options to develop the site and that he told the owner he’d have to take it to the local civic associations first.

“It’s a big, important piece of property,” Lesko said.

Although the Heatherwood property was off the table, other parcels in Port Jefferson Station remained in the plan. The alternate properties from a list of 34 eligible sites in the plan include the wooded area behind , the old and some property in the near the , close to .

Owners of properties in designated areas around the Carmans River purchased by the Town under the plan would be given developer credits. These so-called, “Pine Barrens Credits” would then be able to be sold off by the recipients to developers to build on selected properties around Brookhaven, rezoned for multifamily unit housing.

“What we’re trying to do here is save a river,” said Lesko who used the fate of the another Long Island river as an example. “Forge River is essentially a dead river.”

According to a fact sheet presented at the meeting, 34 sites throughout Brookhaven in all six council districts will be eligible for the development of multi-unit housing. The density of housing would be anywhere from a base of three units per acre up to a maximum of 10.5 units per acre. Lesko said at the meeting that the sites total about 566 acres, just .003 percent of the Brookhaven’s total land acreage of 165,000.

Most of the sites, Lesko said, are either "blighted or partially disturbed properties" and located in commercial areas, downtowns or around train stations.

Lesko promised that the affordable component of the multifamily housing will be genuinely affordable.

“For people just starting out to get housing they can afford,” he said.

Port Jefferson/Terryville Civic Association member Laurie Green said in an email that, although Heatherwood Golf Course has been spared, she doesn’t consider one neighborhood more important than any other.

“We are eager to work with the town and strive to be part of the process in a reasonable and respectful manner,” she said. “Our goal is not to shift the problem elsewhere whether it be inside our hamlet or outside.”

She encouraged the Town Board to vote against the Carmans River Plan saying it was “severely flawed” and will only “shift the problem elsewhere.” Money being used to purchase land could be reallocated into other areas.

“Why not put it towards addressing the chronic homelessness that currently affects every single community in the Town of Brookhaven,” she said.

Members of the Carmans River Study Group had the opportunity to pitch their reasons why the plan should be adopted at the meeting.

Dick Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, called the plan to save the river “truly historic.”

While he noted community members' issues with taxes and multifamily housing, he said that every piece of land in the study was negotiable.

“If you have a problem, fix it,” he said. “But don’t foreclose the opportunity tonight.”

Lesko said that the Town Board was not adopting the plan at the meeting and it was just “the start of the process.” The sites were not final and could be changed, calling the list the “first cut.”

“It’s not written in stone,” he said.

Adoption of a final version of the plan is set for June. The Town Board will review the plan at the next Town Board meeting on March 29.

Kevin Martinez who lives on Janet Street in Port Jefferson Station, across the street from Heatherwood Golf Club, said he was “ecstatic” when he heard it was off the table.

His major concern was the impact developing that space would have on wildlife. The open space was one of the biggest reasons he moved there.

“I see more than 100 geese land there every morning,” he said. “I see owls, blackbirds and rabbits.”

Martinez’s elementary school-aged daughter Nina accompanied him to the Town Board meeting because she had the same concerns. She said that she cried when she heard the news because she loves all the animals she sees living around the property.

“I was afraid of where they were going to go,” she said.

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 as of late.

“Within a quarter mile we have two proposed high density housing projects,” he said referring to the Carmans River Plan sites and the recent .

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?”

My3Girls March 08, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Why build at all. We are over populated as it is. These other proposed sites are no better. Our town doesn't need huge apt units like one in queens and Brooklyn . This is country space out here . If I wanted to live in the city then I would move to the city. The town is money hungry pigs. It's time to stop building. we are on the way of being a over populated floating garbage barge.
shawn clarke March 09, 2012 at 04:01 AM
I moved from Queens to get away from apartment buildings and overcrowding. Their looking to turn Brookhaven into Queens more people, more traffic, and still no jobs.
Deb March 09, 2012 at 03:05 PM
why build more apartments let the town buy some foreclosed homes and make them into affordable housing homes.....an there are PLENTY on long island, and it would create more jobs.....BUY Foreclosed homes,,,,,,you know what happens to low income housing.....the housing is supposed to be for people jsut starting out, and the Town lets the wealthy attorneys, doctors, etc, buy the units and rent them our to Section 8......Look at what they did with Strathmore in Ridge......PRIME EXAMPLE......They let the wealthy buy 10 to 15 units at a pop when they were first built..Wake up People....VOTE NO to any housing plans the Town presents. BUY FORECLOSED HOMES fix them up and sell them......TO People who are qualified to be considered FIRST Time buyers or Lower income....
Kevin J Martinez March 09, 2012 at 03:16 PM
We have to make do with what we have! I see so many homes and businesses empty and yet we continue to build homes and businesses! This does'nt make good economic or "GREEN" sense!! Its just the quick fix with long lasting consequences! There must be a better way!!!!!
Phantom1982 March 10, 2012 at 12:10 AM
I say built it. We pay the highest state taxes for our wonderful school districts and once our kids graduate they leave and never come back. Have you heard of "Brain Drain". Well is alive and well in Suffolk County. Our kids and many others need affordable housing. I will say it again we are in dire need of affordable housing. Who can buy their first starter home for $300,000. Long Island needs housing stock and jobs. Built it and they will come.
Phantom1982 March 10, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Kevin Martinez you are out of your mind. The homes are empty because of the ever increasing high school district taxes and business because of skyrocketing rents and shrinking comsumer confidence. By the way, building "Green" may be the way to go but it is really expensive. Open your eyes. Can your kids if you have kids afford there first home for what you paid for your first home???
Mike Timpanaro March 12, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Enough with building in Port Jefferson Station. What about Stonybrook,Setauket, Ridge, Medford Mt Sinai,etc....Why PJS because we are Middle income? Do we have to be classified upper middle class or wealthy to be left alone. This is a disgrace! Mr Lesko should be ashamed of himself and build in his backyard not ours. Mike From Port Jefferson Station.
Joan Nickeson March 14, 2012 at 12:57 PM
We have to return to town hall next Tuesday and the following Thursday even though the golf course is off the list. The plan is an ever evolving one, and anything can happen. You should to say our piece- March 20th - public comments from 6-6:30 (thanks to Councilwoman Bonner who instituted this) and March 29th- the date set for the board to vote on this 'draft'. Make plans now to get a babysitter. We need to support each other.

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