The Suffolk County Planning Commission officially released a disapproval recommendation for the proposed 50-unit apartment complex and marina dock along the Patchogue River on Mulford Street in Patchogue Village.
The county commission sets guidelines to inform municipalities and developers as to the site-specific standards to projects within its jurisdiction in order to provide guidance on issues such as the compatibility of land uses.
Within the July 7 dated disapproval for the Cornerstone special use permit the main reason was stated as being located in a 100-year FEMA FIRM flood zone. Other factors included:
1: Apartment buildings are not permitted as-of-right in the “E” Industrial Zone.
“It is the burden of the petitioner to indicate why water-dependent as-of-right uses for the “E” Industrial Zoning District, as per the Inc. Village of Patchogue Zoning Law (for example commercial marina; private marina; water dependent portions of Mariculture processing facilities; commercial or industrial warehousing for marine equipment or water borne commerce; marine and boat/engine repair facilities; dry boat storage, etc.), are not viable,” the recommendation reads.
2: A luxury residential apartment building is not dependent on water use. According to the recommendation, the Patchogue River Maritime Center Plan (1999) indicates a long-range plan for the “Northeast River Segment” of the Patchogue River that generally calls for design elements that include relocation of non-water related activities to inland locations.
3: The luxury residential apartment building is not in character with the neighborhood. The character of the neighborhood, described by the commission as from Amity Street to Laurel Street east of West Avenue, is predominantly one to two-story detached residential dwellings.
The proposal includes 50 units of residential development, the 55-boat slip marina, parking structure, and clubhouse.
“This is not in character with the existing and permitted as-of-right uses in the neighborhood and the Terwilliger Barton Properties luxury apartment building, clubhouse, parking structure, and parking lot can be considered an over-intensification of the use of the 1.9-acre premises,” the commission report continued. “Approval of a multi-story, 50 unit luxury apartment building of 63,355 gross square feet with a marina of 55 boat slips (open to the public), the erection of a new 939 SF clubhouse and a two-tier parking structure and off-street parking area required for the development of approximately 156 stalls on less than two acres would tend to establish a precedent for further such land development patterns in the neighborhoods along the riverfront within the Village and possibly other communities along the shoreline of Great South Bay.”
4: The vacant land along the shoreline currently provides for flood water absorption and a buffer. The loss of vacant land along the shoreline, the report reads, could increase the adverse effects of sea-level rise and overland storm surges to neighboring bay-side communities.
The ultimate declination decision came after finding an over-intensification of the use, which was found to not be compatible or in character with the neighborhood setting precedence and causing coastal flooding.
“It’s the belief of the staff of the Suffolk County Planning Commission that the proposed use is not in harmony with the general purpose of the planning initiatives and zoning designation of the subject development site,” the commission said. “The proposed luxury apartment building does not encourage the most appropriate uses of the land in question. The mass and height of the proposed luxury apartment structure are clearly not in character with the predominant detached two-story single-family dwelling nature of this neighborhood.”
Last month over 50 residents came out in opposition to the Cornerstone application protesting outside of Village Hall requesting physical access to the meetings. Representatives for the applicant, Terwilliger & Bartone, went in front of the board requesting a special permit to allow residential use in the primarily E-Industrial zone. Though the hearing was held, a decision was not expected to be made until after referral and recommendation was conducted by the Suffolk County Planning Commission.
Prior to the county’s decision, the Patchogue Village Planning Board submitted a letter recommending the conditional approval of the Cornerstone project for a special-use permit for the construction of an apartment complex at the western end of Mulford Street, pending special conditions were met. Past acting chair of the village planning board, Kevin Weeks, said the decision made by the county was not to be taken lightly.
“I would take what they say with a great deal of seriousness, they are planning experts,” he said. “I don’t recall a time they ever gave a decision never mind a disapproval.”
County planning commission vice chair Adrienne Esposito said the decision came after concerns of the precedent it would set for waterfront development.
“There was overwhelming concern by the commission about this project,” she said. “This particular project is a glaring example over intensification of the waterfront. Our comments were numerous and substantial. Most members of the commission are really hesitant to comment but with this one there was no hesitation.”
The application will now go before the Board of Trustees who have the option to turn it down or override the county’s recommendation. The override, according to Suffolk County Legis. Rob Calarco, would require a supermajority vote.
As for the developer, Anthony Bartone of Terwilliger and Bartone said he has no comment at this time as they are “evaluating” their next move. When the official resolution is received from the County Planning Commission, it will be circulated to the village trustees and the special permit vote will be scheduled.