A lack of necessary setbacks and buffers. Potential parking issues. Floodplain concerns.
And creating precedents for the approval of “flawed designs.”
Considering all those “serious issues,” the Patchogue Village Planning Board has recommended that the Village Board deny an application for a special use permit for The Cornerstone luxury apartments proposal.
The permit is needed for Cornerstone’s developers, Terwilliger Bartone Properties LLC, to proceed in their quest to build a 50-unit luxury apartment complex and marina building along the Patchogue River.
[Click here for all prior Cornerstone coverage.]
The Planning Board’s recommendation for denial came in the form of a four-page document that the board members approved for submission to the Village Board Tuesday night.
The Village Board has final say on whether or not to grant the special permit.
The Planning Board’s recommendations, which GreaterPatchogue acquired through a Freedom of Information Request, also states the issues mentioned above “are caused or exacerbated by applicant’s insistence on squeezing as many units as possible on a space that is not designed for such a large development …
“Applicant has decided that it will not amend the current plan and therefore we must recommend the denial of the application.”
Anthony Bartone, a Long Island-based multifamily developer who’s part of The Cornerstone team, told GreaterPatchogue today, Thursday, that he’d just learned of the recommendation for denial and couldn’t yet comment on whether they would go back to the drawing board.
“It’s too fresh,” he said, adding he would need to process the board’s concerns more fully over the next several days.
The 2-acre property is located off Mulford Street near West Avenue.
The apartment building is proposed to be 45 feet in height and 14,000 square feet in size, and located entirely in an industrially zoned district, thus the need for a special permit to build apartments.
The Planning Board document highlights five areas of concern.
First mentioned in the document is that the Cornerstone proposal calls for an apartment building that would “lie directly on the street line” of Mulford Street, where there is no sidewalk.
The existing zoning currently calls for a 10-foot setback.
The Planning Board found having no setback or even a sidewalk would pose risk to pedestrians and vehicular traffic, and create a “bad precedent” for projects outside the downtown area.
And, “for the building to also lie directly on the street line is wholly incongruent with the appearance of the area.”
The neighborhood around the site consists mostly of single-family houses that are set back from the streets.
“Such a building does not fit with the streetscapes of the area.”
Then there’s the parking concerns. According to the Planning Board, the “current plan requires 153 parking spaces and provides 124 spaces.”
Even if the proposed building were to be set back a more reasonable distance from Mulford Street, the board found, that would only exacerbate the parking issue by eliminating more spaces and reducing ingress and egress space for vehicles in the rear yard parking lot.
“This would also make it difficult, and perhaps impossible for two-way traffic and emergency vehicle access along the bottleneck with the southwest corner of the building,” the document reads.
Also with the parking, the proposal shows parking spaces that would be placed “right up against the apartment building,” the document reads, noting the Planning Board has “long required buffers” for aesthetics and safety.
The Planning Board also cites the village building inspector, who found the project would require large amounts of fill to raise the building and increase flood hazards to nearby properties.
There’s also a planned marina building that, according to the report, the building inspector called “inappropriate” for an area of moderate wave action from the river.
“Construction in such an area is strongly discouraged,” the report reads.
Lastly, the Planning Board has concerns that granting such a permit would set precedents that “given these serious issues,” could “open the floodgates for similarly flawed designs along the Patchogue River.”
In the past, the property was used by Marran Oil and zoned for industrial use. Fuel oil tanks that were housed there have since been removed.
The Planning Board also notes that a prior proposal that was less intense in scale had already resulted in the approval of a special permit to build residential units on the industrially zoned land.
That plan contained less than half of the proposed 50 apartments.
In a GreaterPatchogue report published Wednesday, Mayor Paul Pontieri — who’s now away on vacation — said the details of the document would not likely be made public until a hearing in Village Hall.
However, our FOIL request for the document was honored Thursday by the village clerk’s office.
Any changes to the proposal, if made, would send the developers and their revised plans back to the Planning Board in their ongoing quest for a permit.
The Village Board could also determine that one or some of those revisions could require variances, which would then involve the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
In addition, the Suffolk County Planning Commission would also have to vote on whether or not the the project should move forward, though the Village Board could overrule the county with a supermajority vote.
Above is a conceptual artistic rendering of the current Cornerstone apartments proposal. Click here for more renderings.