The Town of Brookhaven is rezoning about 50 properties along Portion Road and Hawkins and Ronkonkoma avenues, George Schramm, president of the Lake Ronkonkoma Civic Organization, announced at a meeting Monday night.
The rezoning will occur so the properties will come into compliance with the current Lake Ronkonkoma land use plan, Schramm said. The properties, mostly houses, are split-zoned, which means they are zoned for both residential and commercial use. They will be rezoned for residential use. Schramm said the rezoning will have no adverse effects for property owners.
Lake Ronkonkoma residents who attended the meeting at Samoset Middle School, however, expressed concerns about more businesses coming to the community after the rezoning occurs.
“There’s not a crying need for commercial space in Lake Ronkonkoma,” one resident said.
Schramm said the rezoning means that commercial development is possible in the future, but that none of it will happen for another 20 or 30 years.
The town will hold a special hearing Thursday, March 1, to rezone the selected properties. Property owners should have received a notice in the mail indicating that the town plans to rezone their land. If an owner does not want his or her property rezoned, Schramm said the town can take that property off the list.
Ellyn Okvist, president of the Lake Ronkonkoma Heritage Association, originally held this meeting to address a rumor regarding a Sonic Drive-In being built near Hawkins Avenue. The rumor suggested that the fast food restaurant would be going up behind McDonald’s on Portion Road, with its front facing a strip of businesses on Hawkins Avenue and its backside on Carroll Avenue, which is part of a residential neighborhood. Schramm clarified that the rumor is not true.
“As far as I know, there is no application in the town for a Sonic,” he said. But if a retailer such as Sonic does want to open a location in that area, Schramm said, “the development has to occur on Hawkins Avenue to comply with the land use plan.”
Suffolk County Legis. Tom Muratore, R-Ronkonkoma, attended part of the meeting to hear the residents’ concerns.
Schramm also addressed the Ronkonkoma Hub Transit-Oriented Development, a project to redevelop the 50 acres of land north of the Ronkonkoma LIRR station. The town’s plan is to create a community of mixed rental housing, shops and restaurants to attract young people who use the railroad. Schramm said the town is currently working on signing an agreement with Tritec Real Estate Agency, the master developer of the plan, before Tritec begins to take control of the properties in the projected area of redevelopment.
Many residents and businesses owners are supportive of the Ronkonkoma Hub project, but the Ronkonkoma Fire Department has concerns regarding safety. Jonathan Santoli, the second assistant chief, said Long Island Rail Road ridership at the station, which is currently at about 17,000 a day, could double. The increased population in the area will require the department to hire more volunteers, he said.
Santoli said the fire department wants to be as involved as possible in the development process. Sprinkler and standpipe systems, for example, are just two of the many services the fire department wants to have an influence on, Santoli said. He also said that the fire department will need new equipment to compliment the building materials used in the project.
“We’re just looking to see what can be done,” he said.