"It’s about time. It’s about time we address these issues as a whole, I haven’t been hiding in a hole," said Toby Carlson, owner of Carlson Associates. "I have always supported rational planning, planning for productive growth."
Carlson said he supported the town's decision on Sept. 16 to hold off setting a date for a public hearing on his proposal for asphalt plant in Kings Park at a Kings Park Civic Association meeting on Thursday night. He called it a "good decision."
"I don’t think another asphalt plant in the area is a good solution, but it’s a solution," he said.
Carlson Associates filed site plans with Town of Smithtown on Aug. 28 proposing to construct an asphalt production facility on 13 acres currently zoned for heavy industry. Under town code, asphalt plants are permitted but would need a special exception from Smithtown's Board of Zoning Appeals for concrete manufacturing and sand/gravel mining and processing.
However, Carlson said he'd rather build a state-of-the-art indoor recycling facility than an asphalt plant.
"Asphalt is the easier way to go, but I believe long-term sustainability of our community is something we need and it is something we are not addressing," Carlson said.
Carlson Associates is prepared to make a $25 million to $50 million investment to build an indoor organic waste recycling facility - compared to $3 million to build an asphalt plant - if the town board and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will work with them, according to Carlson.
"Once the town says, 'We are going to serious study this, I will put in the funding and resources to design it and look at all those issues," he said.
To construct the indoor recycling facility, the Kings Park company would need Smithtown officials to amend town code, as the town eliminated the operation of recycling facilities from all town codes in 2003.
Frank DeRubeis, Smithtown's Planning Director, said he believes Carlson's recycling facility proposal "may have merit" and has requested two months to look it it as an option.
Carlson said an indoor organic waste recycling facility would help address current community issues with dust and odors, locking them behind sealed doors, and provide short-term construction jobs with long-term skilled labor at the facility. He has also suggested it would save the town money trucking out yard waste, while increasing its tax base.
Kings Park resident Michelle Garry said she was having a difficult time trusting Carlson's plans when he didn't present many concrete details.
"It's kind of presumptuous to think we are going to trust a conceptual idea when the behavior and past history is not neighborly and not community minded. It's a hard pill to swallow," Garry said.Sean Lehman, president of the Kings Park Civic Association, said he believes Carlson's proposal "holds promise" but will have to further look into how it affects the community.
"We want our businesses to thrive, we are about protecting the community and our quality of life as well," Lehman said. "I think we are going in a different direction right now, and its a good thing we are."