The Bayport Civic Association says a proposed project to flip the Bayport land known as the “Serota Property” from its current Industrial zoning to retail/commercial zoning would heavily increase traffic and hurt local business.
The proposed project involves the creation of a new zoning district called the Islip Smart Growth Planned Development District (ISGPDD) and the rezoning of the 135.24± acres into such a zoning district, according to Islip Town Planning Commissioner Dave Genaway, who said the application was filed in late 2008. A Planning Board public hearing was held on Nov. 18, 2009, and the Town Board adopted a final scope on March 16, 2010.
ISGPDD would provide for three sub-districts including residential, retail/commercial and industrial. The residential sub-district is proposed to comprise 20.05± acres, the retail sub-district is proposed to comprise 46.0± acres and the industrial sub-district would comprise 69.18± acres. The Conceptual Master Plan for the project depicts 201 residential units and 474,336 square feet of retail/commercial space within the retail sub-district. The industrial sub-district could contain up to approximately 1.5 million square feet of space, including industrial, office, and hotel space.
The property, located just west of Costco and between Beacon Drive and Veterans Memorial Highway, is currently split as Industrial 1 and Industrial Corridor Districts, which is how Bayport Civic President (BCA) Bob Draffin thinks it should stay.
“One of our fears is that ( if this application is granted) other industrial properties around here will request a zoning change. Then another will want a zoning slip, and another,” Draffin said. “There’s a reason behind master plan recommendations that these areas are zoned the way they are, and if more retail needs to be done, it should be to existing retail areas along Montauk highway.
Genaway emphasized that the planning department has some serious concerns with the application because they think the existing industrial zoning is appropriate.
“With any change of zone application, the onus is on the applicant to make a case for why the existing zoning is not appropriate. In this case, we are specifically concerned with the retail development proposed, which is not in keeping with our comprehensive plan recommendations for this corridor,” Genaway said. “That being said, we are working with the applicant to ensure that they receive a fair, transparent, and legally defensible review.
And the BCA’s is not alone with some of its concerns. Teaming up with other civic organizations from the south shore to form the South Shore Civic Alliance, the BCA was instrumental in having a Sunrise Highway Corridor Study conducted from “Malfunction Junction” in Oakdale to Hospital Road in East Patchogue.
Sunrise Highway traffic is an issue that area south shore civics have an interest in, according to Draffin, who said the study, conducted by New York State, Suffolk County and Islip and Brookhaven towns confirmed the BCA’s belief that areas currently zoned industrial should remain so and the area does not need more retail.
Draffin and the civic have a longstanding view on this application. With the Serota application proposing multiple “big box” stores, Draffin said the BCA has been consistent in protecting the area’s downtown ‘Mom and Pop’ businesses while fighting against the Walmarts of the world that could take away business from local merchants.
“In the the opinion of the Bayport Civic, this [the development of this land as stated in the application] will be detrimental to both our downtown businesses and the quality of life that we are so lucky to enjoy,” Draffin said.