ISLIP

Future of Union Avenue property up in the air

Confusion ensues following site plan presentation

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A site plan application that came before the Islip Town Planning Board Nov. 12 via Zoom resulted in some confusion from board members and residents after the in-meeting presentation differed from the applicant’s request.

The 0.40-acre property at 31 Union Avenue is roughly 284 feet south of Montauk Highway. It previously housed well-drilling company R & L Well Drilling, LLC. The business has since vacated.

According to the planning board agenda, the applicant requested a zone change from Residence B to Residence CAA district to permit three two-family dwellings on the property to be repurposed. Site-plan modifications were requested as part of the application.

But the call for the meeting did not match the site plan submitted to the board, board chairman Edward Friedman said.

Architect Mel Gonzalez of MIG Architects, representing the applicant, said he proposed eight apartment units with six kitchen units. An existing dwelling on Union Avenue with a Certificate of Occupancy, which dates back to 1966, will be maintained as a two-bedroom unit. The building to the east will be maintained and converted to four bedrooms in that particular building.

Senior planner Sean Colgan said a living unit is defined by the total number of kitchens on a property. If the number of kitchens increases, the potential number of living units also increases. More kitchens would also impact the parking calculation, he said, increasing it from the anticipated 11 spots.

During a public hearing on the application, residents expressed their concern with the property.

Patricia Veryzer Goedtel, whose property borders the parcel in question, said she’s concerned about the impact the property will have on her family’s quality of life.

“Both personally… and to the community at large, which is primarily composed of old neighbor homes of historic nature, noise added to an already noisy area due to bars, restaurants and the bank will be a hardship,” she said. “Congestion due to the necessity of adding parking and traffic to an already bustling area could easily become overwhelming.”

Veryzer Goedtel noted that light sources on the property will lead to loss of privacy and contribute to light pollution. She said recent noisy activity on the lot demonstrated that the property owner is absent.

“No consideration has been displayed to indicate that this is a residence with people living next door,” she said.

Some residents said they were not notified of the public hearing, while others stated that their neighbors had difficulty tuning into the Zoom webinar.

Islip resident Joseph Clayton said he was not informed about the hearing until he heard about it online.

Clayton noted that while the property was used by R & L Well Drilling LLC, there was an “abundance” of well-drilling equipment on the property, including several oil drums. He stated additional concerns with traffic and parking, and doubted that the main building was a two-story dwelling.

Similarly, resident Todd Pearsall said he’s been inside the property and it’s not a two-family dwelling.

A volunteer firefighter in Islip who owns a property east of the parcel, Pearsall said a lot of chemicals were stored on the property and requested that an environmental study be completed.

Pearsall added that the historic character in the hamlet will be impacted by the construction of the units.

“This is a historical community of the hamlet of Islip,” Pearsall said, “what are the purposes of these units? Are they rented, sold? What type of individuals and families are moving into these units? Are they just more of a transit rental or is it long-term?”

Stacy Moore, a Union Avenue resident who works as a local realtor, said the property does not belong in the area. She said it will increase traffic on Union Avenue and she, too, is concerned with the possible chemicals.

“It doesn’t belong here,” she said. “It’s going to bring down our house values… I’m not happy about it, and I hope you take into consideration what myself and all my neighbors are saying.”

Following the hearing, Gonzalez said that a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment was completed on the site in January 2020 and came back clean. The report is intended to determine if a property’s prior use impacted the soil or groundwater beneath the property, and could pose a threat to the environment and/or residents. Board member Brian Ferruggiari suggested that the assessment be shared with planning board staff.

Colgan said the applicant was required to mail notice to all property owners within 200 feet of the property notifying them of the hearing, date and time. An attorney representing the applicant said that 32 mailings were sent out in accordance with the town’s requirements.

The north entrance of the site is expected to be open strictly to provide access to the dumpster across from the north property line and for fire access. Gonzalez said that recommendation came from a fire marshal who inspected the site.

The road that connects the property to Union Avenue, Gonzalez said, is a roughly 10.5-foot-wide, single-vehicle road. He said that he would need to discuss with town officials if they will permit egress and access from the town parking lot.

The hearing was adjourned so the applicant could appropriately modify the application and advertise it. Residents will receive notice of a new public hearing.

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