Cornerstone project denied by Patchogue planning board
The Patchogue Village Planning Board submitted their recommendation for the Cornerstone project to the village board of trustees late last month, during their Sept. 24 meeting. Shortly after, the recommendation was obtained through the Freedom of Information Law by the Patchogue Village Citizens for Open Village Government group and posted online.
According to the document, the board recommends the denial of developer Terwilliger Bartone Properties LLC’s application for a special-use permit and construction of an apartment complex on the western end of Mulford Street, after a “considerable” review.
The board found that the northern side of the building rests on the street line on Mulford with no setback; industrial zoning requires a minimum 10-foot setback. There is no sidewalk either, meaning the building would rest directly on the roadway.
“Such a building location does not fit with the streetscapes of the area, which are dominated by single-family houses that are set back,” the letter further reads, stating that the only location in the village with no setback is on Main Street, even with a sidewalk present.
In addition, the current plan requires 154 parking spaces and only provides 124 and moving the complex further from the street would only eliminate more spaces. The spaces are also placed right up against the building, which requires a buffer between the building and spaces, an important aesthetic and safety element, it continues.
The plan further poses serious concern for the floodplain, which the board says the applicant failed to address. According to the building inspector, the project would require large amounts of fill to raise it out of the floodplain and would increase flood hazards to the surrounding properties, and is strongly discouraged.
“Given these serious issues and the existence of similar properties along the Patchogue River, the planning board must also note the precedential consequence that would result from granting the special-use permit,” the letter continues. “Granting the application here not only permits a flawed site plan to come into existence on the property, but it will also open the floodgates for similarly flawed designs along the Patchogue River.”
According to the board, the village only allows residential uses in industrial zoning upon special-use-permit approval by the board of trustees, as does the use in residential. Upon first review by the planning board, a denial of the application was recommended, signed by all seven members.
“We are pleased with the board’s recommendation. We know this has been a challenging process for the planning board to manage and we respect the deliberation and thoughtfulness of their recommendation to the trustees,” wrote the Patchogue Coalition Against the Cornerstone Development in a response to the recommendation. “We also recognize this does not necessarily mean that the process is completed, but remain hopeful that the village trustees will seriously consider the board’s recommendations when or if it considers issuing a special-use permit for the current proposal.”
The application was submitted in January for an approximate two-acre development that spans two lots at the end of Mulford Street off West Avenue. Dick Blakeslee, who owns The Oar Steak & Seafood Grille nearby, is the owner, while Anthony Bartone of Terwilliger & Bartone Properties is the developer.
The proposal was for a $16 million development on an industrial-zoned parcel, including a three-story building with 50 luxury rentals, all with balconies, a rooftop clubroom and a marina. Ten percent would be set aside as workforce units. One-bedroom rentals start at $2,500. Fifty-five boat slips are proposed to be leased, with Blakeslee as manager of a private yacht club. Almost the entire proposed apartment complex lies in industrial zoning and is just over 14,000 square feet, measuring 45 feet in height.
Terwilliger & Bartone Properties had no comment at this time, as they are still sorting out the details of the letter. According to Anthony Bartone, a press release will be released at some point in the near future.
The board of trustees will now schedule a date for a public hearing for the project proposal sometime within the next month. According to mayor Paul Pontieri, plans will then have to go before the Suffolk County Planning Board for review and a recommendation, then to zoning for variances and back to the planning board for site plan review. Whatever recommendation is made by the county planning board, Pontieri said, can only be overridden (if need be) by a majority vote. The next trustees meeting will be held on Monday, Oct. 14; a public hearing date will be set at that time. n
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