The long and laborious process of updating Smithtown’s Comprehensive Master Plan is one that has been in the works since 2019.

A Master Plan for a Town consists of intense research, consultation, and engagement with the public for extended periods of time to develop a long-term vision and plan for the physical development of a community. The Smithtown Master Plan has long been out of date, reflecting a community that has grown and evolved as the decades have passed.

Smithtown’s proposed Master Plan focuses on preserving residential neighborhoods, open space, and historical sites, as well as mapping out downtown revitalization going forward. The downtowns of Smithtown hamlet, St. James, and Kings Park in particular have been subject of recent discussions, initiatives, and renovations, including, but not limited to, wastewater management and sewer infrastructure, beautification, renovating blighted properties, and maintaining Smithtown’s quaint and historic personality.

H2M Architects and Engineers have been the Town’s consultants in developing the Master Plan. Smithtown began working with H2M in 2019 to start the dedicated task of updating the Plan.

In December 2020, the Town released the Draft Comprehensive Plan and initiated the State Environmental Quality Review process. In early 2021, the Town held six community outreach meetings for the public to voice their suggestions and concerns, as well as view the proposals to each of the Town’s hamlets.

The Town Board amended the draft in June 2021 and held subsequent public hearings.

In December 2023, the Town Board accepted the Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement, which addressed and accepted public comments from a May hearing.

The Town Board held a public hearing last Thursday evening at the Eugene A. Cannataro Senior Center in St. James. The Board voted to formally close the public hearings on the project, although the period for public comment will remain open until April 5.

“We haven’t had an updated Master Plan since 1956,” Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R-Kings Park) told The Messenger at Thursday’s meeting. “A lot has changed since then and our Master Plan going forward needs to reflect those changes.”

Wehrheim addressed the concerns of residents who fear overdevelopment and the erosion of single-family homes with multi-unit dwellings or apartment complexes becoming ubiquitous in Smithtown.

“People in their single-family homes can rest assured that their houses will always stay single-family homes,” said Wehrheim. “They don’t have to worry about people trying to come in and mow their houses down.”

Wehrheim also mentioned that heights for buildings are all capped at three stories in Kings Park and four stories in Smithtown for buildings that already exist at four stories or greater. Wehrheim says that capping building height is a significant aspect of the Master Plan. He also discussed Governor Kathy’s Hochul’s (D) initiatives on affordable housing and how some fear that such endeavors will make Suffolk County resemble Nassau County in terms of density.

“When you talk about affordable apartments, the way you make them affordable is yield,” says Wehrheim. “In Nassau, a developer needs 500 to 700 units, for instance, to make money. The only way a developer will get that is by going vertical. Capping height protects this community from that type of development here in Smithtown.”

Wehrheim did discuss the positives of mixed-use buildings where applicable.

“The concentration is limited,” says Wehrheim. “An older building can be renovated to have retail on the bottom floor, professional offices on the middle floor, and apartments on the top floor. That makes those buildings very valuable and viable for the public.”

In addition to Supervisor Wehrheim, members of the Planning Department, Town Clerk Thomas D. McCarthy (R-Smithtown), Councilman Tom Lohmann (R-Smithtown), Councilman Thomas J. McCarthy (R-Nissequogue), Councilwoman Lisa Inzerillo (R-Kings Park), and Councilwoman Lynne Nowick (R-St. James) were in attendance at Thursday’s meeting.

Members of the public could sign up to make comments and were given three minutes to address the Board.

One resident voiced his concerns about quality of life around Old Northport Road in Kings Park, expressing his wishes that the area is not zoned for multi-family units. He also mentioned that the deer population in the area is the “worst” he has seen in his “twenty-five years of living there.”

Suffolk County Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) briefly addressed the Board by mentioning the planned apartment building in Kings Park in place of a vacant restaurant on Indian Head Road near the Kings Park Train Station. He said, addressing concerns of the public, that “it’s not going to happen anytime soon” and that the project “has to go before the [Town] Board.”

“I applaud you for doing this [Master Plan] in stages, and keep up the good work,” said Legislator Trotta.

A Kings Park resident brought up the issue of heavy traffic on the hamlet’s narrow roads, and asked if private property bordering the eastbound lane on Route 25A could be “seized through eminent domain” to widen the streets to improve traffic flow.

Keith McCartney, President of the Fort Salonga Association, inquired about the possible environmental hazards from the industrial area along Bread and Cheese Road.

“By allowing any more heavy industry in that area, it’s going to get worse and worse,” McCartney said, referencing a stream that reportedly runs off from the industry into a nearby pond. McCartney called for a ten-year moratorium on rezoning of the residential property between Glen Lane and Sunken Meadow Parkway West.

Multiple renderings of the proposed plans were on display on easels in the venue.

The recommended rezoning for Commack Corners shows proposed Neighborhood Business (NB) zones along Jericho Turnpike and Veterans Memorial Highway (Route 454), as well as adjustments to the Mayfair Shopping Center on Jericho Turnpike.

The current shopping center south of the fork of Jericho Turnpike and Route 454 is recommended to be slightly expanded, with the western portion to be rezoned from Neighborhood Business (NB) to Shopping Center Business (SCB).

A small parcel of NB on the corner of Oaklawn Drive and Route 454 is proposed to be rezoned from NB to Office Business (OB).

The Shop Rite shopping center between 347 and Townline Road is recommended to be rezoned from Commercial Business (CB) and NB to SCB. The Hauppauge Palace Diner is recommended to be rezoned from Office Business (OB) to NB, while one property on Route 111 just north of the 347-454 junction is proposed to be rezoned from OB to Professional Business (PB). A portion of land from the diner towards Townline Road is recommended to receive a multi-family overlay zone to “encourage a portion of the area to be redeveloped with multi-family residential homes.”

The Hauppauge Industrial Park rendering showed 75% of the currently sewered parcels in green with the non-connected parcels in red. Eminent domain is required to install the pump station and the projected completion date is 2026.

Kings Park
Recommendations for this hamlet come from the Draft Kings Park Downtown Revitalization Master Plan, likely to include the $10 million grant award delivered by Governor Hochul herself in January, as well as $2.5 million County grant for streetscape improvements for Main Street.

The Master Plan recommends replacing Commercial Business (CB) zoning with three Kings Park downtown zones: Core, Transit-Oriented Development (TOD), and Transition. The TOD subdistrict will be adjacent to the LIRR station, with Transition subdistricts adjacent to the railroad along Meadow Road and further up Main Street.

Pulaski Road CB zones are recommended to be rezoned as NB, while several parcels of land on Meadow Road are to be right-zoned as PB.

The main recommendation for Nesconset is to create a new Nesconset Core zone between Nesconset Plaza and Nichols Road, which would consolidate three zoning categories into one. The Plan also allows “some downtown-type uses and neighborhood business uses.” Commercial properties beyond the proposed “Core” are proposed to be zoned as NB. NB zoning consists of grocers, hardware stores, or other businesses providing essential needs.

Property at the outskirts of the corridor along Terry Road will be reclaimed for single-family residential.
A County-conducted Sewer Feasibility Study aims to examine sewering commercial properties in the business district along Smithtown Boulevard. Areas of known high groundwater along Old Nicolls Road from Moriches Road in Lake Grove to Townline Road as well as the western quarter of Nesconset are shown to have been taken into account.

Phase 4 of the Route 347 Plan under the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) was also shown, highlighting current work from Gibbs Pond Road to Hallock Road. The current work looks to add beautified medians and reworked lanes.

St. James
Recommendations for Lake Avenue include replacing CB zoning with two Lake Avenue downtown zones, LAD-C (Core) and LAD-TOD (Transit-Oriented Development). LAD-C runs from Woodlawn to 25A and lot area and building height standards will be maintained. LAD-TOD will only be directly adjacent to the LIRR station and will allow for three-story buildings, mixed-use buildings, apartments, or townhouses.

The Lake Avenue District stretches from Woodlawn Avenue north to Moriches Road. CB zoning from Norwood Avenue to Clipton Avenue is recommended to be rezoned to NB to “reflect existing conditions and to differentiate between the auto-oriented North Country Road and pedestrian-oriented Lake Avenue downtown.”

Front yard setbacks for this rezoning should be consistent with the average of existing nearby structures, typically less than the minimum fifty feet.

A Sewer Feasibility Study is also included in the Master Plan to identify a suitable location for a Sewage Treatment Plant (STP).

Parks Projects – 2024

Callahans Beach, Fort Salonga – New playground and pickleball court Short Beach, Nissequogue – New trellis/pavilion

Given Park, Smithtown – Renovation of former Oasis building, new playground, and parking lot

Sprofera Park/Browns Road Park, Nesconset – New turf little league field, drainage improvements, and pickleball court Veterans

Memorial Park – St. James – New turf little league field

Hoyt Farm, Commack – Parking lot renovation

Public Safety, Nesconset – New ADA restrooms

Town Hall, Smithtown – New ADA restrooms

Senior Citizens Center, St. James – New ADA restrooms

Whitman Hollow, Commack – New turf little league field

Survivors Park (Valmont), Commack – Renovation

The public comment period remains open until April 5. The final step in formally adopting the Master Plan sees the Town amend the Town zoning ordinances to follow the recommendations of the Plan.

Official adoption is anticipated by autumn 2024.

Previous articleSmithtown Welcomes Latino Mixx Radio
Next articleNY’ers Patience is Short, But Their Memory is Not
Matt Meduri serves as the Editor in Chief of the Messenger Papers and writer of America the Beautiful and This Week Today columns. As a graduate of St. Joseph's University, Matt has been working in the political journalism field for over 5 years. He is a multi-instrumentalist, enjoys cooking and writing his own recipes, and traveling throughout the United States including Guam.