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Residents protest Cornerstone development, while Patchogue has to put off decision

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About 50 residents assembled in Patchogue Monday evening to protest the Cornerstone project, a luxury apartments complex being proposed along the Patchogue River, just north of Oar Steak & Seafood Grille.

The concerned citizens stationed outside of Patchogue Village Hall while representatives of the developer, Terwilliger & Bartone Properties, stood before the Village Board seeking a special permit to build a residential building within Patchogue’s “E” industrial zone.

Prior to Monday’s public comment session, the developer has been before the Planning Board several times. After the most recent encounter, the Planning Board wrote a lukewarm recommendation letter to the Village Board to approve the use of the special permit.

Kaety Jackson, one of the protest organizers who reaches people through social media and delivering flyers door-to-door, was surprised by the turnout. “This is far beyond the folks that I know,” Jackson, 34, said. “It’s just been a snowball effect.”

Jackson and other protesters spoke their opposition to the record, which was submitted online via Zoom. Scroll down for the comments.

the opposition

Once the board opened the meeting to the public, the protestors, as well as other residents attending virtually from their homes, unloaded their points of opposition to the 55-and-older project.

Most residents who spoke into record introduced one of two environmental concerns. “One of our big concerns is the environmental impact on the river,” Casey Stewart said. The protestor said she noticed dead fish in the river when she went out on her boat this last weekend. “I can’t imagine more apartment complexes, what that would do to the Patchogue River,” Stewart, 35, said.

Others expressed frustration that the developer has not properly addressed concerns over stormwater runoff. They fear flooding will become more severe in their coastal village.

At the top of Monday’s meeting, the Terwilliger & Bartone representatives declared that after the special permit process is finalized, a depth site plan, which would be reviewed by the Planning Board, will address drainage, stormwater retention, location proximity to the river, polluting the river or flooding adjacent properties.

Representatives for the developer also presented a slideshow addressing the stormwater concerns. [You can watch the presentation in this video.]

They said the project will help alleviate the persistent flooding issue for residents as the stormwater will be managed with infrastructure features and new planting. By growing greenery along the river, the soil will become more absorbent and the water will evaporate before it becomes a flooding issue.

Added traffic is another concern of many who convened outside Village Hall. “The congestion and the traffic already on West Avenue, without more traffic during the summer months, is usually pretty crazy,” Stewart said. “You can’t back out of the driveway.”

Worries of overflowing parking from the Oar Steak & Seafood Grille were also addressed Monday evening. “He’s got 16 employees,” said Joe Russo. “And they’re gonna wind up on Laurel street, parking over there, or on Grenville [Ave] and on West Ave because there’s not enough parking.”

The protestors also feel the complex, a multi-story structure and a two-level parking garage, is out a character with the small town appeal Patchogue offers. They also cite concerns that it will obstruct the view of the Patchogue River to which they are accustomed.

“It’s not fair to the people next door to it,” Russo, 60, said.

What’s next?

Before the Village Board can vote on issuing this special permit, it must request a referral from the Suffolk County Planning Commission under municipal law 239-M. While an exact timeline is unclear, Mayor Paul Pontieri said Suffolk reviews such special permit requests in “generally 30-45 days.”

Once the county commission returns an approval, recommendation of modification or disapproval, depending on recommendation, the board can vote on the special permit and integrate what may come from the county.

Should the county referral suggestion denying the special use permit, the Village Board has the ability to override the county’s guidance with a majority-plus-one, or 5-2, vote.

Below are photos from the protest outside of Village Hall.