No vote yet on Cornerstone
Resident Kaetlyn Jackson, sporting a button that reads: Stop the Mulford St. Cornerstone Apartments, spoke against the project and suggested a public park be built, as per recommendation from the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program.

ADV/ Waszynski

No vote yet on Cornerstone

Story By: RANDALL WASZYNSKI
3/28/2019


The Patchogue Planning Board listened to both sides of the aisle Tuesday night during The Cornerstone Waterfront at Patchogue public hearing regarding the Terwilliger & Bartone development proposed for Mulford Street. The lengthy meeting was adjourned.
The decision of granting a special-use permit depends on the testimony provided as to whether or not the use will benefit the area, said Planning Board Chairman John Rocco. 

“That is a criterion that the village board has to deal with and make a decision based on the information,” Rocco said.

The meeting wasn’t a quiet one. Duel-led by the board alongside the architectural review board, The Cornerstone portion started at 9 p.m. and kept on past 11:30 p.m., while  residents registered their comments after the board declared a no-vote. The meeting space had been moved to the South Ocean Middle School from the normal village hall gathering in anticipation of the crowd and more than 130 residents attended the meeting in the school cafeteria. The majority of the residents present sported large red buttons that read: Stop the Mulford St. Cornerstone Apartments.

The parcel lies across both an E-Industrial zone and a C-Residential zone. Since the meeting held in January on the matter, several changes have been made to the application and it is the third major rework of the project in response to community input, according to Kathleen Deegan Dickson, an attorney representing Terwilliger & Bartone.

An outline of the modified application highlights that the firm will no longer be purchasing the end of Mulford Street.

“We are concentrating on the residential part of the project on the south side of the site,” Dickson said. “There is no longer any building over Mulford Street. Public access will continue, as it has always been. But it will be better, prettier, cleaner and safer.”

Other changes include a brick promenade along the waterfront; there will also be no fencing along the marina bulkhead in response to obstructed view of the water, and the rooftop amenity will now be located in the middle of the building with a wall that serves as a barrier to limit noise to the surrounding neighbors.

Members of the developer’s team also touched upon concerns raised about soil testing, assuring that testing has occurred throughout Phases 1 and 2 of the process. The Department of Environmental Conservation has been informed throughout and continues to be involved. Additionally, the soil will continue to be tested, as soils are disturbed during construction processes, according to developer Anthony Bartone and the environmental consultant.

“Everybody here, I’m sure, knows about what is happening in the wake of the Suffolk County illegal dumping,” Bartone said. “Everybody is hyper-sensitive to soils now, rightfully so. And so we will be adhering to much more stringent oversight, specifically by our capital partners.”

The firm conducted a traffic study that spanned from the intersection of River Avenue and Montauk Highway southward to the Mulford Street/South Ocean Avenue intersection. The engineer who spearheaded the study announced that the traffic increase from the site was negligible in terms of the necessity of traffic signals or any other additions.

Several residents who spoke criticized the traffic study in that it does not consider the addition of vehicles parked on nearby streets.

“With parked cars lining every inch of every street in the neighborhood and non-continuous sidewalks, dog walkers, bike riders, children and runners will be forced into the streets, where the no-doubt heavier traffic will be trying to navigate the congested, narrow road,” said Tiffany Bowman, a nearby resident and member of two local running clubs that take to these streets often.

Bowman also raised concerns about the timing of the February traffic study.

“I maintain that that study is completely inadequate,” Bowman said. “It in no way accurately reflects the amount of traffic on these streets in the summer months, when visitors are flocking to the local restaurants and ferries.”

If the application moves into the approval process, the board would conduct its own traffic study, and residents urged that this study be conducted between the months of June and August to fully and accurately assess the peak-traffic flow.

Residents also raised the idea of better uses for the parcel, as opposed to a luxury apartment complex.

“A 50-unit apartment building that over doubles in height of the surrounding residences is not the best option for the end of Mulford Street,” said resident Kaetlyn Jackson. “A more compatible use for these undeveloped lots would be a public park and marina with access for waterborne recreation. The Local Waterfront Revitalization Program recommended this to be a benefit to the public.”