Town Board Approves Special Exception Permit for Whisper Landing

Residents question legality of "rushed vote" for proposed assisted nursing facility on Route 25A.

Aerial view of plans for the proposed Whisper Landing on Route 25A in Smithtown. (Patch file photo)
Aerial view of plans for the proposed Whisper Landing on Route 25A in Smithtown. (Patch file photo)
Developers of the proposed Whisper Landing assisted nursing facility have received the green light from Smithtow Town Board to move forward over the protests of nearby residents. 

Smithtown Town Board voted 4-0 to accept the environmental review of St. Johnland Development Group LLC's proposal to build a three-story assisted living facility on the corner of Route 25A and River Heights Drive in Smithtown finding it would have no significant environmental impact at Tuesday's town board meeting. Supervisor Patrick Vecchio was absent and did not vote. 

The town board also moved to grant conditional approval of a special exception permit for St. Johnlands Group, required under town code to operate an assisted living facility, provided the Board of Zoning appeals approves the required zoning variances. 

"If the Board of Zoning Appeals doesn't approve, the application is dead," said Frank DeRubeis, Smithtown's Planning Director. 

St. Johnland Group's initial plans for Whisper Landing required five zoning variances from the town, but recent revised plans have reduced it to three variances: permitting environmentally sensitive land to be altered, to build on ground with excessive slopes, and to increase the maximum height of building from 2 1/2 stories to 3 stories, according to DeRubeis. 

The Board of Zoning Appeals is expected to possibly vote on variances requested for Whisper Landing's site plan at its Jan. 7 meeting. 

Smithtown resident Bill Kearney, represented at Tuesday's meeting by attorney Valerie Manzo, said he felt the town's approval days after receiving the environmental impact study was unfair. 

"Now to hold an immediate vote with no opportunity for the public's response to said report, is unfair and should be deemed illegal. There is no reason that the board has to rush to judgement and put the cart before the horse," Kearney wrote in letter. 

Manzo said Kearney and other neighboring residents were considering hiring an outside expert to review the environmental impact study on proposed Whisper Landing. Several residents cited traffic and environmental concerns with the project at a June 23 public hearing. 

Glenn Gruder, a Smithtown resident and zoning law attorney, said he plans to file an Article 78 lawsuit against the town board for acting in violation of its own town code. 

"The Town Board shouldn’t be voting on a special exception permit until the Board of Zoning Approvals grants variances," Gruder said. 

He cited Section 322-99(B) of Smithtown's town code, relating to special exceptions for assisted living facilities, which reads: "Before approving such a s special exception, the Town Board shall determine the following minimum conditions are provided... (4)the maximum building height shall be stipulated..." 

Town Attorney John Zollo stated at Tuesday's town board work session he believed St. Johnland demonstrated meeting the conditions for a special exception permit, and if it wasn't granted the town could face an Article 78 lawsuit from the developer. 

St. Johnland currently has a lawsuit pending in Suffolk County Supreme Court against the town and Board of Zoning Appeals alleging the BZA did not render a decision on the variances within 62-days of its June 25 public hearing - breaking the town's own statutory deadline. 

Allan Diamanti December 18, 2013 at 08:48 AM
WOODY11780 December 18, 2013 at 09:48 AM
Patchogue Snoop December 22, 2013 at 07:14 AM
Follow the money...it will lead to the crooks.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something