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Town Planner: 'Power Plant Rumors Are False'

Town of Smithtown's planning director denies rumors about a proposal to build a power plant on Townline Road as a misunderstanding.

Commack residents' concerns about proposed plans for a power plant being built on Town Line Road are nothing but rumor, according to the town's planning director.

Frank DeRubeis said he's received numerous phone calls in the past week from Commack residents concerned about alleged proposal to build a power plans on Town Line Road. DeRubeis denied such plans exist.

Instead, he contributed residents' fears to a misunderstanding started when the town published legal notices for its upcoming planning board meeting on June 6. 

"The rumors got started when we posted the advertisement for zoning changes. One thing led to another, as one of the things under these changes is a piece of property that was involved with plans for a power plant eight years ago. People are thinking we're bringing it," DeRubeis said. "The town is not interested in that proposal." 

The Town of Smithtown published legal notices May 21 in The Smithtown Messenger to notify residents of public hearings on FB4 Realty's request for a change of zoning from light industrial to heavy industrial, and Carlson Associates' request for a change of zoning from light industrial to wholesale industrial and heavy industrial to be held June 6, in accordance with New York State law. 

From this, a chain email began being sent between Commack residents claiming the Town of Smithtown was considering a proposal to build a power plant on Town Line Road. 

The email, as forwarded to Patch on May 25, starts: 

A formal proposal has been submitted to build a 250 megawatt power plant on Townline Road approximately 1 mile away from Commack High School. The effects of any power plant will be detrimental. The health effects alone could be life threatening. 

The community email goes on to call for residents to attend the June 6 Planning Board meeting at 8 p.m. to protest the zoning changes stating:

On the agenda is the review of the request for a zoning change from light industrial to heavy industrial. Without this zone change the power plant can't go forward. 

The chain email was not signed when received by Patch, and its initial source could not be traced. 

DeRubeis said the individual who started this email has misunderstood the issues at stake during the June 6 meeting. He said the FB4 Realty property, south of Old Northport Road, was once the site listed in a former power plant proposal submitted by KeySpan, before the electrical utility became Long Island Power Authority. However, that project was rejected by the town. 

"When we testified on the proposed power plan, we said it was too close to residential neighborhoods and we will not support it on their site," DeRubeis said. "The town board has indicated to me that they have not changed their minds." 

LIPA issued a request for proposals approximately 14 months ago, according to DeRubeis, searching to build a new power plant on Long Island. There were 18 locations considered including two in the Town of Smithtown area,  one near Carlson's properties in Kings Park. Four months ago, LIPA whittled the list of 18 potential sites down to 6, with a Carlson property still in the running. 

"They are currently doing evaluation to whittle that list down to possibly three sites," DeRubeis said. "At this particular time, there is not specific site plan that has been put forth. It's all a conception where this plant may be located." 

Mark Gross, a spokesman for LIPA, said the utility company is not ready to discuss any plans being submitted for a power plant at this time, but LIPA will " probably be ready to discuss it sometime this fall." 

Meanwhile, the public hearings schedule for next Thursday are an effort by property owner Toby Carlson and multiple others along Old Northport Road and Town Line road, that have multiple violations with regard to industrial activity, to legalize their current use of the land and businesses, DeRubeis said. 

Kings Park residents have made coming from several of the businesses run off Old Northport Road in Kings Park. 

DeRubeis said he felt the public hearings are important for residents to attend, to gain an understanding of what heavy industrial zoning could mean for the future of that section of Kings Park.

"I've invited anyone who want to come in and look at the applications. Just give us a courtesy call in advance as the files are on someone's desk," he said. 

If a zone change is approved to heavy industrial, it would not allow for a power plant to be built on the land, according to DeRubeis. A power plant can be built on any parcel of land because it's a public utility, regardless of zoning, as long as the builders obtain a special permit from the town board. 

Richard June 01, 2012 at 01:25 PM
This and other local topics were discussed last evening at the Commack Community Association meeting. You are correct, there is strength in numbers. Please go to http://www.commackcommunityassociation.org/ and become a member of the organization. An organization with large membership has the weight to be heard loudly and get things done. Become a full member for $15 a year or an Associate member for FREE!
Richard June 06, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Not so fast Mr DeRubeis....Seems like plans are in the works - see the documents https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B3cbjRc1NY_pZkJqV1BVU1NqR0U
Gigi June 09, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Richard that is a dead link. However, I was at the meeting the other night and saw with my own two eyes the Competitive Power Ventures, Inc. proposal for a 400 megawatt gas/oil fired power plant to be built on a 14 acre parcel of land on the Carlson property! Someone stood up with it in hand and confronted DeRubeis and he finally had to admit that while the proposal hasn't crossed his desk it has been submitted to LIPA and it has been discussed with the Town of Smithtown Board members. This plant would store thousands of gallons of petroleum distillate on site as a back up fuel in case there is a problem with the gas supply (or if natural gas becomes more expensive they could always switch to running it on oil). The problem with storing all that oil is that Carlson's property is located in a very sensitive deep recharge area of the aquifer - the sole source of drinking water for Long Island. That area has been designated that by the Suffolk Co. Dept. of Health and there are strict laws that prohibit the bulk storage of hazardous materials there. Getting back to the liar (DeRubeis) and greedy sociopaths (the Carlsons) - they sure got exposed for what they are on Wednesday night. How dare they lie to all of us? They should be ashamed of themselves.
Richard June 09, 2012 at 03:25 AM
You can try this link - Page 8 shoes the location map https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B3cbjRc1NY_pZkJqV1BVU1NqR0U/edit
Gigi June 09, 2012 at 05:04 AM
Thank you Richard....this new link works. OMG their proposed site is almost right on top of all the homes on Glen Lane and all the homes on Pulaski Road. It also says that they did an exclusive option on the land in March 2011, That's 15 months ago. The Town Board members have known about this plan for at least 15 months and the Carlsons entered into this agreement with the power plant company 15 months ago!!! They are despicable people - Toby Carlson stood up and told everyone what a wonderful man of Kings Park he was because he eats lunch at Anderson Deli every day....what a guy...really keeping the local economy going w/ his sandwich consumption. They don't give a damn about being good neighbors. They've been polluting the environment with their noxious businesses for years, they've disregarded the law, they've scoffed at the neighbors when they complain of the smells and noise. They continue breaking the law even after the DEC fined them. They could really care less about anyone but themselves. Make no mistake - they're in it for the money.....the hell with the people who have invested in their homes and just want to make a nice life for their families. They suck....and so do the people that defend them on here.

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