More than 250 residents attended a three-hour marathon public hearing at the Smithtown Planning Board Wednesday night to speak out against a request to rezone properties along Old Northport Road in Kings Park to heavy industry.
Carlson Associates and multiple business partners filed an application with the Town of Smithtown on Jan. 19 seeking
Vincent Trimarco, an attorney representing Carlson, said the application is an effort to bring their businesses into compliance with town code, but residents expressed everything from doubt to outright anger at their zoning request.
"What has been allowed is criminal. What you are getting here is criminals, they are standing here. They don't seem to be embarrassed. They violated the law. They hired a lawyer, he gets his fees and they get away with it. You should be ashamed of yourself," said Martin Mullarkey, of Commack.
Despite Toby Carlson calling for business and residents to "come together for a solution," residential neighbors doubted his sincerity.
"Their blatant disregard for the rules has gone on for far too long. The business owners have proven they are not to be trusted by well-documented, illegal behavior," Commack resident Ann Guaglione said, speaking for Townline Association.
Carlson Associates was fined by the DEC for illegal mining in 1998. DEC officials said they had and was investigating a business on Old Northport Road in January, who it would not name.
"We have documentation over and over again showing violations of the environment, noise, and pollution. The credibility of the Carlson family, based on this data, is not credible," said Tony Haberman of Commack, part of the Townline Association. "When we fought plans for a power plant eight years ago, we repeatedly asked to speak with him and our requests were repeatedly denied."
Robert Semprini, representing the Commack Civic Association, didn't understand why business owners hadn't reached out to the civics if they were willing to work together.
"If Mr. Carlson or other property owners want to work with us, they should work with us. They have no right to destroy our quality of life, no right to destroy roads, no right to put our kids in danger - there's a surplus of 3,000 kids between Commack High School and Northridge [elementary]. Where is there concern?" Semprini said.
Other residents were worried if Smithtown officials grant the Carlsons' request for heavy industrial zoning, it could lead to even worse living conditions.
"If they get their grant and change the zoning, not just them but other asphalt companies could come. We open up the flood gates... that needs to be seriously considered with more than 75 acres of land close to schools, hospitals and large communities," said Sherry Kaplan, representing the Townline Association.
East Northport resident Nancy Lower also expressed her concern.
"This zoning law is not just about existing businesses, but what other businesses might be coming in the future," Lower said.
For those who live closest to the site say they are concerned that the rezoning to heavy industrial would impact their quality of life.
"I can't let my children play outside without it stinking. On Saturday of Memorial Day, the smell was toxic. It was horrible. My children could not play outside," Kings Park resident Debbie Danley said.
Yet, she understood the need for compromise by both the businesses and residents for a solution.
"I would love nothing more than to come to a compromise where there land is valuable, businesses employ local residents and bring in tax revenue. Right now, the tax revenue isn't there, the odors are there, and residents' concern is compounding," Danley said.
The public hearing on the Carlson Associates and FB4 Reality's request for change to heavy industrial zoning has been left open until Sept. 5.