Cornerstone supporters speak up
Third hearing sees significant increase in support for the project
The Village of Patchogue Planning Board’s third hearing regarding the proposed Cornerstone at Patchogue waterfront apartments on Mulford Street attracted a split crowd for and against the project.
Opposition to the project dominated attendance during the two previous hearings. The third time around, however, more supporters voiced comments than those against. Roughly 100 residents and other interested parties attended the hearing last Thursday, held in the South Ocean Middle School cafeteria.
The developer, Terwilliger & Bartone, relayed to the board that its second traffic study, conducted on July 12 and 13, indicated that the project would not have a significant impact on traffic. Kathleen Deegan Dixon, the attorney representing the developer, said the first study, conducted in February, accounted for its difference compared to peak traffic in the summer months; it was actually over-accounted for.
“The majority of the study shows that intersection traffic volumes were lower during the actual counts compared to the seasonally adjusted February counts,” Dixon said. “Despite the doubts expressed by some in the community, the analysis previously submitted was actually predeterminant.”
Dixon also emphasized the zoning of the parcel, which is partially industrial and residential. Aside from a residential complex, zone-appropriate alternatives include restaurants, bars and ferry terminals.
“It is important for people to recognize that something is going to be built here,” she said. “This proposal is the least intense and least intrusive of all the possibilities.”
For the public comment portion, the board urged those who wished to speak to limit their testimonies to new thoughts and information relevant to the application.
Along the lines of environmental concerns, David Bowman, a nearby resident to the property, expressed concern considering the distance of construction to the water.
“What we know now about climate change and the ridiculous sea-level rise in the future, I cannot help but think we would all have to be absolute fools to approve of a project like Cornerstone being so close to the edge of the Patchogue River,” Bowman said.
After seeing the site renderings presented at the previous hearing, Casey Stewart, a nearby resident to the project, said that the project would decrease her home’s value since the building would compromise the view of the river.
“[The rendering] did not include our houses; that would literally be in our backyard,” Stewart said. “If this property is built, I will no longer have that perk.”
Support for the project was also well represented at the podium. Diane O’Grady, a nearby resident on the opposite side of the river, said she read resident Tiffany Bowman’s letter published in The Advance which sparked her to begin a petition for those in favor. O’Grady accrued 45 signatures from Patchogue residents who support the Cornerstone apartments. She said that she would like to rent at the proposed complex.
“I want to downsize. I [would] have a place to park. I want to bring my boat up. For me, this is the perfect answer to my problems,” O’Grady said.
Several local realtors voiced their support for the project, many making note of Patchogue’s deficiency in rentals.
“I feel that rejecting this development would be a step backwards on the trajectory that this village has fought so hard to be on,” said Stephen King, a local realtor and Patchogue resident. “Now, we have people fighting to be a part of our town, and I hope we never take that for granted.”
Speaking along the lines of the village’s economic growth, owner of Bean of Patchogue Coffee House, Robert Cutrone, spoke in favor of the project. As an established proprietor in Patchogue, Cutrone expressed his understanding for Terwilliger & Bartone’s application.
“I would like to believe that as the brand of Patchogue wants to grow, the Cornerstone project is very much a part of its process,” Cutrone said. “The idea of more residents [and] more housing will contribute long-term to the success of Main Street, as well as this village.”
Cutrone and other supporters referenced the Village of Patchogue as an emerging small city with the potential to become Suffolk County’s first “city,” eventually. That line of thought, however, raised concern among several of those who spoke against the project.
“When [Cutrone] referred to the village as becoming a city, that really struck a nerve,” said Joseph Dolcimascolo, a Patchogue resident. “Keep the business on Main Street — not next to our houses.”
Patchogue resident Mary McDonald said she values the peacefulness of the village and is turned off by the notion of it morphing into a city, an environment she purposefully moved from.
“You are turning the Patchogue Village into Queens,” McDonald said. “If I want to live in Queens, I’ll go back.”
After three hearings, the planning board has now accrued sufficient comment on the matter and is currently reviewing the testimonies provided.
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