Private lands near Carmans rezoned

07 May 2014

Brookhaven officials last week rezoned over 870 parcels — over 642 acres — of privately held land in the hamlet of Brookhaven, restricting new development as part of their plan to preserve and manage the Carmans River and surrounding watershed.

As part of the rezoning, lands formerly zoned A1 Residential, or one-acre zoning, were converted to A2 Residential, which requires at least two acres of land to construct one house. Under the old A1 Residential zoning, which was first adopted about 20 years ago, landowners were allowed to build one house per acre of land. 

The new zoning changes will impact those landowners looking to subdivide their property, officials said. Officials said there are only a handful of properties greater than one acre.

Landowners with properties already containing homes will be affected in that they will need greater variances before the Zoning Board of Appeals if they plan an improvement to their property, according to officials. However, there will be a history of their property for the zoning board to take into account, officials said. The zoning change will not affect property taxes, officials said.

The board adopted the measure unanimously at a special board meeting last Wednesday evening at Town Hall in Farmingville.

Supervisor Ed Romaine said the zoning changes he and other officials are referring to as ‘upzonings’ would really only affect vacant properties that are undeveloped. He said the zoning changes would go a long way to ensure the areas around the river will not be overdeveloped and also reduce nitrogen loading into the river.

“So this is not going to have an enormous effect now; it will over the years because it will ensure that areas next to the river will not be developed,” he said.

The zoning changes were the second in a series — the first set back in the fall concerned only public lands — since Brookhaven adopted its Carmans River Conservation and Management Plan last October. Brookhaven officials have been tussling with guidelines to preserve the endangered river for the better part of four years now. A previous plan to redirect development away from the river to other areas further up north drew controversy and was eventually shot down, sending officials back to the drawing table.

“I think it has been a marked difference — the conservation of the Carmans River plan, as opposed to the previous plan by the former administration,” said Deputy Supervisor Dan Panico. “I think that we are making great progress, and from the lack of turnout at the meeting, it shows that the planning department has answered questions, and the transparent manner in which we are moving forward has put many people’s minds at ease.”

“This is just trying to keep the river pristine,” said Councilwoman Connie Kepert, whose district includes Brookhaven hamlet.

MaryAnn Johnston, the chair of the Affiliated Brookhaven Civic Organization’s land-use and preservation committee, said the group did not have any real objection to anything being rezoned in Brookhaven. But she doesn’t believe the zoning changes solve the problem of overdevelopment because the town is continuing to allow building in the area; instead, the board should have instilled a moratorium. Johnston went on to say the impending zoning changes resulted in a flurry of applications to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Kepert said she was unaware of that being the case.

“I have not heard that; I don’t think that is correct,” she said. “This is the first I have heard anything like that.”

The next series of zoning changes will be located in Yaphank and after that, in Middle Island. Romaine said officials are also looking to preserve properties in and around the Carmans River watershed, noting the town recently partnered up with Suffolk County to acquire the former Avalon Bay property in Yaphank. Officials are also working on preserving other properties, but nothing that he could comment on just yet. Romaine set aside about $10 million towards the acquisition of open space, including $6 million for the purchase of parcels in the Carmans River watershed, in this year’s budget. 


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