Sandy Hills

At Tuesday’s board meeting Middle Island’s vision for a revived center took a step closer to becoming a reality. The MCR LUP adopted in April of 2006 reflected the community’s vision to transform Middle Country Road from a corridor characterized by strip commercial areas, and big box stores, to one characterized by pedestrian oriented centers which include public spaces, and a mix of uses both residential and commercial. The Sandy Hills application consists of 39 acres and includes 135 units of mixed residential, and a small J-6 component.“Sandy Hills application provides for live work units, as well as, units dedicated to seniors, thus avoiding the isolation of seniors in complexes which are far from services. Half of our citizens do not drive, either they are too young, too old, are poor, or disabled,” stated Councilwoman Connie Kepert.

The type of development represented by Sandy Hills provides for pedestrian access to important community facilities such as the Longwood Library, Middle Island Post Office, and to a commercial center. “We used to be a nation of neighborhoods, rather than a nation of subdivisions in which people could walk short distances to provide for everyday needs.  Sandy Hills brings that back,’ stated Kepert. “People will be able to walk to the library, the post office, or simply to buy a quart of milk. The Sandy Hills application provides just that. It reduces the number, as well as, the distance of car trips, thus reducing congestion, and energy use. Eighty five percent of driving miles are for errands. Creating a mix of uses in downtown centers reduces those car trips,” continued Kepert..

The Sandy Hills application also provides for a waste management facility, which will serve not only Sandy Hills but will be able to serve adjacent developments. No existing public waste management facilities are available to these sites. If the revitalization of Middle Island is to occur in conformance with the MCRLUP, new opportunities for sanitary waste treatment are needed. The Sandy Hills waste management facility has been designed to provide a new waste management facility, which is capable of receiving sanitary waste from other projects in the area. The location has been approved by Suffolk County Department of Health Services, SCDHS.

The application also provides for a boulevard access road through the property, which will divert traffic from the intersection of CR 21 and Rt. 25, thus relieving pressure on what is an overused intersection.

Many of the steep slope areas of the property are designated as undisturbed open space.  The application preserves 18 acres of open Space.

Ms. Kepert, also sat down with the developer to change what would have resulted in a negative tax impact to the Longwood School District to an application which provides for a tax neutral outcome, which produces enough tax revenue to cover the cost to educate the school children generated. Through the inclusion of senior units the number of school children generated was reduced from 57 to 25. The as of right application would have resulted in 36 school aged children which would cost the School District $300,680 to educate and generate less revenue at $184,048 which equaled a deficit of: $116,632.

In addition to the Sandy Hills application Ms. Kepert has moved forward the upzoning of 1,757.99 acres of land in what is termed the transition area, or the area between the centers. Such upzoning complements the creation of hamlet centers. “Funneling development into centers while limiting development outside of them is the antithesis of sprawl,” stated Kepert.

“I love Sandy Hills! The plan preserves open space, promotes walkability, combines living and working space and is very pretty to look at. Plus, it includes a new boulevard that will act as a bypass around the oft-clogged intersection of Routes 25 and 21. It's an amazing project, not just for Middle Island, but for every community in Brookhaven,” stated Gail Lynch-Bailey, President, The Longwood Alliance.

“Nearly a decade ago, the Longwood Alliance hosted one of the Town's first ever visioning processes. We've been trying to breathe life into the heart of Middle Islandever since, especially at our community crossroads. With Sandy Hills, we'll have arenaissance on the northeast corner of our hamlet center.  Passage of this plan will end the years of stupid growth and no growth in our town. Sandy Hills means that smart growth really is welcome in Brookhaven,” stated Ms. Lynch-Bailey.

“The Sandy Hills 'Smart Growth' project based project proposed for Middle Island has the potential to reverse the signs of encroaching blight along Middle Country Road, stated Tom Talbot, President of the Middle Island Civic Association.

Suffolk County to provide $2 million in workforce housing infrastructure funding

Preliminary site plan and Blight to Light special use permits approved for mixed-use project as part of Supervisor’s Blight to Light Initiative

Farmingville, NY –Supervisor Mark Lesko and Councilwoman Connie Kepert have announced that the Town Planning Board has approved the $53 million Wincoram Commons redevelopment project on the former United Artists (UA) Movie Theater in Coram. The unanimous decision was made at the September 10th Planning Board meeting. The approval, which includes the preliminary site plan, allows the developers to receive incentives under the Blight to Light Radiant Incentive Package, including special permit for change of use from the Planning Board from J2 to J6 and MF, expedited review, and 75% reduction of Town application and permit fees. The project is a joint venture between the non-profit, Centereach-based Community Development Corporation (CDC) of Long Island and Conifer Realty of Rochester. The next step is for the developers to file a final engineered site plan for approval.

County Executive Bellone also announced that Suffolk County will be providing $2 million for the infrastructure of the workforce housing portion of the project.

The UA Movie Theater property was one of the first “monuments to blight” targeted for redevelopment in Supervisor Lesko’s “Blight to Light” initiative. It was also identified in the Middle Country Road Land Use Plan, which was initiated by Councilwoman Connie Kepert and adopted by the Town Board in 2006. That plan recommended the site be redeveloped for mixed use and be transformed into a retail and residential town center community. In addition, on September 12, the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council selected Wincoram Commons as a Priority Project for the region’s economy.

“When I created the Blight to Light program in 2010, the redevelopment of the abandoned UA Theater in Coram was one of my top priorities and the Blight to Light incentive package was crucial to its success. I want to thank the Community Development Corporation of Long Island and Conifer Realty of Rochester for their commitment to this project and also Councilwoman Connie Kepert and County Executive Steve Bellone for their partnership. I wish the development team, Town, County, and community good luck in the future with Wincoram Commons and look forward to driving through Coram and seeing what was an eyesore transformed into a beautiful, vibrant new community,” said Supervisor Mark Lesko.

“The UA property is central to the revitalization of Coram. We worked for months on the site plan which provides Coram with a vibrant mixed use center containing shops, public spaces and residences,” stated Councilwoman Connie Kepert.

“Suffolk County will provide $2 million in funding for the infrastructure components of this workforce housing project, including 176 affordable rental units,” said County Executive Steven Bellone. According to Bellone, “in addition to providing financial resources, the County Department of Economic Development and Planning actively assisted throughout the process in moving the project forward, which will not only remove an ugly eyesore from the community, but provide a tangible boost to the local economy.”

County Legislator Tom Muratore said, “I applaud the Planning Board for recognizing the significance of this project and approving it. The former UA movie theater property has been an eyesore in Coram for far too long. Wincoram Commons is a great example of how local government can effectively collaborate with non-profit organizations and private businesses to revitalize an area, provide much needed jobs and housing for the community.”

Andrew Crossed, Executive Vice President of Conifer Realty said, “Conifer is very pleased by the broad support that this transformative project has received from the Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County and the community. Along with CDC of Long Island, we are very excited about the recent approvals that move Wincoram Commons closer to reality.”

Marianne Garvin, President and CEO of the CDC, “It’s been a long, but fruitful journey to get to this point with the Wincoram development. I couldn’t be more proud of the community for its vision for this site and grateful for their support. From the Regional Council’s selection of Wincoram as a Priority Project, to the Town’s Blight to Light program, to the County’s Workforce Housing incentives, this is an amazing public/private partnership, where many people worked together to achieve success.”

“Wincoram Commons is a significant project for the region’s economy that will rehabilitate an eyesore, create construction jobs and permanent jobs, and add workforce housing in the Town of Brookhaven,” said Kevin Law, President and CEO of the Long Island Association and Co-Chair of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council.
Erma Gluck, president of the Coram Civic Association said, "I'm so excited that everything is finally falling into place after ten long years of trying to get a project together for the blighted UA property.  As president of the Coram Civic Association, the #1 question I'm always asked is ‘when are we going to see a viable project on that sight?’ Thanks to Supervisor Lesko's Blight to Light project, the site is listed as #1.  It has also qualified to be listed on the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council's list.  This is definitely a win for Coram. The Coram Civic Association can't wait until the wrecking ball hits the old building and we finally will start to see our dreams come true for a walkable downtown area connecting Wincoram Commons, Avalon Bay at Charles Pond and Charles Pond.  Thereby allowing restaurants to come to the area and other revitalization on Middle Country Road."                Left shows the current blighted condition of the Coram UA property.
Right shows the approved preliminary site plan for the Wincoram Commons redevelopment.

The 17.65 acre UA Coram Movie Theater site has been a monument to blight in the Coram community since it closed in 2004. The existing structure is vacant and in severe disrepair and will be demolished to be replaced with new construction. The result will be 176 workforce rental housing units with gateway retail on Route 112 and main street retail totaling 13,330 square feet.

The total project cost is estimated to be $53 million, a significant investment in the Coram community that will leverage public dollars with private investment.  It is anticipated the project will create 145 construction phase jobs and also create and support 34 permanent jobs. 

The project will be designed and constructed using green building and sustainable community practices.  The intent is to provide a convenient town center with retail that will support the needs of the surrounding community and be a very attractive destination to shop for area residents.

The concept plan that has been developed is in response to the community’s visioning process and the Middle Country Road Land Use Plan for Coram, Middle Island and Ridge. CDC of Long Island and Conifer have been responsive to the part of the land use plan developed for the Coram Hamlet Center West. That vision calls for a hamlet center with an internal main street, multifamily residential and retail development, and a walkable community with opportunities for public gatherings.

The redevelopment leverages many community benefits that include access to an offsite sewer treatment plant and a connector road (green) extending Mill Road from Route 112 to Route 25.  This will ease traffic congestion at the intersection of Route 25 and Route 112. The redevelopment will also include a bike path and sidewalks that will connect the project to the existing Avalon at Charles Pond community located to the west off Route 25, allowing residents easy “walkable” access to the retail business located in the new development. In addition, a two acre parcel on the site will be preserved in its natural state. There will also be open green space, a public plaza, community building and playground.

   75 Families to Receive New Homes, Says Foley and Kepert

MARCH 4, 2008, FARMINGVILLE, NEW YORK –Brookhaven Town Supervisor Brian X. Foley today explained the transfer of 75 foreclosed properties from Suffolk County to the Town of Brookhaven – the largest single transfer in Town history -- and the subsequent transfer from the Town to local NGO’s (non-governmental organizations).

   A Town Council resolution, introduced by 4th District Councilwoman Connie Kepert and passed unanimously on February 28, 2008, authorizes Town Housing Department officials to further transfer these properties from the Town to various not-for-profit housing agencies to create affordable housing. The homes will be re-built/rehabilitated and transferred to qualified families.

   “This is great news for dozens of families who will now be able to become fully integrated into the Brookhaven community as homeowners,” said Foley. “This demonstrates that when government and the non-governmental organizations come together, we can make a difference to benefit Brookhaven residents.”

  Councilwoman Connie Kepert, who has been instrumental in convincing the County to increase the number of homes given to the town, explained how cooperative efforts such as this help Brookhaven. Ms. Kepert noted that working to put qualified families into these homes improves neighborhoods, while the alternative, auctioning to the highest bidder, often results in landlords taking possession, flaunting building and rental codes or leasing the properties to tenants who, without a stake in the community, often let the homes run down.

   “This transfer will result in 75 families owning homes and having a stake in our community,” said Kepert. “Instead of the County making a few quick dollars auctioning the houses, the transfer to the Town and not-for-profits really builds neighborhoods by giving people homes to live where they have both a financial and emotional stake in their communities. We need more families in our communities and less absentee landlords.”

   The NGO partners included in this transfer are: Long Island Housing Partnership, Habitat for Humanity, the Community Development Corp, the Bellport/Hagerman/East Patchogue Alliance, and Economic Opportunity Council. Just added to the Town’s roster of partners are the South County Land Trust and Victory Housing.

   Supervisor Foley pointed to a critical need in the whole process: volunteers to help work with the Town’s partners, such as Habitat For Humanity, to get the actual construction work completed and preparing these properties for occupancy.

   Mr. Foley said, “Here’s a wonderful chance to help our community and people who need and deserve the help. We hope everyone will avail themselves of the chance, contact one of these wonderful groups, roll up their sleeves and pitch in.”

   Transferring the homes from the County to individual homeowners is a multi-step process: a selection of the tax-defaulted properties, seized by Suffolk County, are offered to the Town for its affordable housing program. Among this particular group of houses, most are in Bellport/Shirley/Mastic/Mastic Beach areas.

   Brookhaven Town then certifies that these properties will be sold to first time homebuyers of certain income levels via a lottery system. These families are then assisted and counseled by the housing partners regarding budgeting, financing, and home ownership. The process insures they will be able to afford living there for the long term, and helps them become “vested” in the area within which they live.

   “ Supervisor Foley and Councilwoman Kepert have worked extremely hard to see this process through to this successful conclusion,” said Valerie Biscardi, Brookhaven Commissioner of Housing and Community Development. “I am pleased my department has been able to facilitate the process.”