Not much has been agreed on between residents and business owners in the industrial area of Kings Park, but one thing became clear at Wednesday evening's planning board hearing; all sides want resolution on the failure to properly address zoning along Townline and Old Northport Road.
The problem has stymied the town board for decades, resulting in no clear-cut plan and no change.
owned by Carlson Associates and multiple business partners who wish to change their residential R-43 and light industrial zoning to heavy industrial. Carlson's property makes up 63 of the 84.63 acres.
Attorney Vincent Trimarco, of Smithtown, who represents Carlson, spoke at the standing room only hearing and said the change is an effort to fall in line with town codes. His client has been cited for years on improper uses on the property. Trimarco, who has represented Carlson Associates for the past four to five years on the zoning change, said he has not seen much action by the town board.
“One of the things we are frustrated about, same as residents, is there is no finality of this,” said Trimarco. “It keeps going on and on and on. Because of that, we made the application to go from light industry and wholesale industrial to heavy industrial. We had no choice but to do that. Everything else seems to have failed.”
Applicants, residents, the town and local civic groups were finally given the opportunity to speak at a hearing that has largely been adjourned or postponed several times over the past years.
Property owner Hank Carlson read a prepared statement, which at times drew guffaws from the crowd, referencing “burlap underwear” as being an uncomfortable fit, as he said he believed the zoning code applied to his property is not the proper fit.
“We need a revision to the code that allows us to be here and recognize our legitimacy and legitimacy of our function. There will be no solution as long as we play this dance that has gone on 50 years,” he said.
The change to heavy industry would allow much of the current uses of the area to continue, but not all, and it would allow additional uses that both the town and residents said were not desirable. Heavy industrial zoning could allow asphalt manufacturing, concrete product manufacturing, licensed junkyards, sand and gravel mining, and trucking stations, some of which already take place and are in violation of town code.
Smithtown planning department officials indicated Wednesday evening that they are not keen on a change to heavy industrial and said “the request for rezoning the site would only permit some of the existing uses” and that “heavy industrial zoning for such a large and secluded area would encourage more development with town permits and appropriate public oversight”.
Officials have also said that the change could have an impact on the tax base, as heavy industrial has the lowest average tax incentive of all industrial of business uses.
Community groups and residents in opposition said a change to heavy industry would be detrimental.
"For close to two decades, residents have complained to the planning board, to the Smithtown board about offensive odors, heavy and dangerous truck traffic on roads not designed for heavy truck traffic, and poor air quality coming from these businesses, said Ann Guaglione, a Commack resident and a member of the Townline Association.
"A recent toxic targeting report shows dozens of spills, toxic releases and enironmental damage the Carlsons and other properties have allowed over the years, and it is not currently zoned heavy industry. What will happen if even more intensive industries start up in the area?," she said.
The town planning board voted to adjourn the hearing, which included applications from both Carlson Associates and Farino Brothers Realty-known as FB4 Realty- until Sept. 5. The board plans to seek a bigger venue at the request of audience members who said they expect and even larger crowd than the one present Wednesday.
Trimaco said the town has three options; deny, approve or come up with a plan.
"That’s what this board is, a planning board, come up with a plan with the department and input of residents and my clients… which might encompass our needs and the needs of residents," he said.