Brookhaven Next Generation Housing Proposal Questioned

Some area civic groups leery of proposed mixed-use development idea while others feel it's key to redeveloping downtown areas.

Several residents and civic leaders from hamlets across Brookhaven voiced their concerns at a Town public hearing Tuesday that focused on the Next Generation Housing proposal put forth by Councilwoman Connie Kepert.

According to Kepert, the idea would create a mixed-use residential zoning code that aims to encourage pedestrian-oriented development. Residential apartment units would be mixed among commercial retail space, with the code requiring a minimum of 1,000-square-feet of commercial space for every 10 residential units. Construction must also be in close proximity to transportation hubs or major roadways.

"This is something Long Island needs to move towards; a compact development not sprawling over our open spaces," she said. 

Kepert said the proposed Next Generation Housing zoning code would allow developers to build 12-14 units per acre of land, with higher density possible by using Pine Barrens credits. While the proposed code mandates a minimum of 20 percent of the residential units be affordable, she noted the idea is not designed to develop low-cost housing.

However, a number of speakers at the meeting expressed concerns that the new zoning category would lead to an increase in population density since the Next Generation Housing zoning would allow four-story residential buildings near Long Island Rail Road stations and major roadways.

"This far more resembles a license to spot zone throughout the Town than the ability to plan for a limited number of areas suitable for mixed-use, more dense housing to enhance walkable hamlet centers and downtowns around transportation hubs," said Robert de Zafra, a Setauket resident who spoke representing civic associations in Setauket and Stony Brook. 

Others said they have been fighting to prevent high-density housing from being constructed in their community.

"We in Terryville have fought a determined effort by several town politicians to build a high-density, low-income housing center in a downtown many of us have been working hard to resurrect," said Francis G. Gibbons Sr., executive board member of the Port Jeff Station/Terryville Civic Association. "New residential construction is a short-term solution to a long-term job problem." 

While some expressed concerns about Kepert’s proposal, there were some who also voiced their support.

Eric Alexander, executive director of Vision Long Island, said he was in favor of the Next Generation Housing idea as recent studies conducted by the non-profit organization show 43 percent of Suffolk residents would prefer to live in a walkable, downtown community. 

"We would envision this code would be applied where communities petition to have it," Alexander said. "Let's get another zoning option on the books." 

In addition, several residents from the Bellport area also spoke in support of the plan, saying that Next Generation Housing near the Bellport train station would be the "catalyst to change the entire area." 

"It's a step forward towards delivering what we envision as a vibrant main street, increased property values and promotes a sense of pride in the community," said John Rogers, acting chairman of the Greater Bellport Coalition. 

Given the level of public interest in the proposal, the Town Board will be accepting public comments until Feb. 1. The board may vote on the zoning code as early as its Feb. 5 meeting. 

annette kattau January 25, 2013 at 01:48 PM
This concept is great not for our area we have downtowns and main street and they are barely surviving and I think patchogue has enough apts and condo to meet the needs for all of our areas. THis concept with take the rural out of rural...Come on we like living in the country Nassau county queens here we come with the MF and Next Gen enought is enough lets fix what we have and save our water supply. We at a 83 per cent density..... A tmeporary fix for boxes lets think long term people I wish connie would give it up!!!
Linda Otta January 25, 2013 at 06:32 PM
Eric Alexander from Vision Long Island's wife works for Councilwoman Connie Kepert. Something smells.
Laura January 25, 2013 at 11:33 PM
We have Avalon? The newest one OakTree! Offering a free dinner if they agree! It is true ! Look up U.N. Agenda 21 please. Huntington Town Board headed by Frank Petrone. We fought Avalon. Still going on -on - on. It is up to us to make a difference.
Union made January 26, 2013 at 12:13 AM
Bad idea
Kathleen February 24, 2013 at 09:23 PM
I am an expediter on Long Island and see the housing and living situations every day. I am also a mom of a 27 and a 24 year old who both with college degrees and good jobs still cannot afford a home on Long Island. With high taxes and student loans, they can not even think about buying a home which is so sad. Something needs to be done or we will have our future generation move off the Island and of course all the baby boomers. When this happens all cost of living will go up further to sustain all the expenses of Long Island. So something has to give. Codes need to change to allow generational housing to come into play. Maybe change the mother daughter code to allow 3 generations to live in one house. If a family can prove that they are related and comply with all the town and state code also allow the 3 kitchens. Now there are 3 incomes to pay the high taxes and allow the families to stay on the island.


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