Sayville will welcome a Bristal Assisted Living Facility despite resident opposition of the project the Islip Town Board unanimously approved at its Dec. 14 board meeting.
Residents have long viewed the project, which has been in discussions for years, as “out of character” for the area. Located on a 5.5-acre parcel of land in Sayville where Lakeland and Johnson avenues split on the southbound side, the facility totals approximately 96,000 square feet (including basement areas), according to Dave Genaway, Islip’s commissioner of planning.
Sayville resident Nick Gibbons and others collected nearly 1,000 signatures from residents in the immediate area who are opposed to the project. Gibbons said most would prefer there be no development at all, but if anything, residents would rather see projects under the former zoning- Business 1, Residence A and B.
“I and others are adamantly opposed to this project for a variety of reasons, paramount among them is the idea that we don't believe a 140-bed, 100,000 square foot building belongs in the middle of our otherwise sleepy, residential neighborhood,” Gibbons said.
Genaway said significant effort was given to site design, scale and architecture of the building by holding multiple meetings with both the applicant and representatives of the surrounding neighborhood in an attempt to address the scale and location of the building on the property.
The planning board also wanted to require a more residential architectural style to the building as opposed to the standard style employed by Bristal in other Long Island locations, said Genaway. Although the overall floor area of the building is calculated at about 96,000, a significant amount of that total area is located underground. The visible floor area on the first and second floors would not be larger than 75,000 s.f.
In terms of building setbacks, the staff and the planning board worked to maximize the setbacks—far greater than would be expected from any as-of-right development, according to Genaway, adding that the applicant is required to install unprecedented levels of screen buffer plantings around the perimeter of the property thus further mitigating any visual impacts.
Although the application did undergo a Planning Board process, the Town Board had final jurisdiction. The planning board did address its concerns about the zoning of the project, which Genaway cites below.
“Planning acknowledged the need to diversify Islip’s housing stock and, in particular, to provide for the housing needs of senior citizens, he said. “The planning board ‘balanced the equities’ of eliminating a portion of residential zoning on the east side of the property versus the elimination of unregulated Commercial/non-residential zoning on the west side of the property.”
Genaway said the board felt that if an effective site design could be achieved (with significant landscaped buffers around the perimeter of the property), the impacts of the proposal would be less than those expected from development under the current zoning.
The northwestern portion of the site was, until recently, occupied by the Eastern Coach auto restoration and repair shop, which includes multiple buildings associated with the repair and storage of vehicles, and a single family home on the north side of the site. All of these properties are zoned Business 1, total of 1.96 acres.
To the south of this is a vacant building formerly used as an adult home, currently zoned GSC on 1 acre, along with an additional parcel, currently zoned Residence B District. Behind these parcels is a vacant, landlocked parcel zoned Residence A which is 2.5 acres.
Prior to the town board meeting, Gibbons also took issue with what he predicted to be the reasoning behind the board’s (anticipated) approval.
“It's unconscionable to me that, under the banner of "economic development," the town is eager to approve this project,” he said. “Now, with a lame-duck supervisor leading the way, the town seems poised to render a decision that all of us here in Sayville will have to live with once they are all long gone.”
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