Good morning neighbors:
As most of you are already aware, the potential owners of the property located at 20 Sunken Meadow Rd. (between Bread and Cheese Hollow Rd. and the Fort Salonga Elementary School) are applying for a certificate of existing use from the Smithtown Board of Zoning Appeals requesting to double the occupancy, converting the prior 25-bed not-for-profit Charlie Murphy home into a 50-bed for-profit drug rehab facility. If approved, our community would be known for having the elementary school that’s “right next to the drug rehab” - as Fort Salonga Elementary is about 1,000 feet away. The hearing is scheduled for January 25 at 6:pm at the Smithtown Senior Center located at 420 Middle Country Road, Smithtown, 11787. After the last zoom hearing was adjourned, we have learned that the 1/25/22 hearing will be in-person only, as the Town has eliminated Zoom capabilities for this hearing. We urge you all to attend, write and/or call the Town Board, Planning Department, Supervisor and Zoning Board. Allow us to provide some context.
The former Charlie Murphy property is under contract to be sold to real estate investors who specialize in flipping properties. The prospective purchasers are not bound to the terms of the contract unless they are able to secure approval for a for-profit 50 bed drug rehab facility. The basis for the prospective purchaser’s application is that they feel that they should be entitled to operate a for-profit drug rehab at the site because the prior owners had previously operated an alcohol rehab at the property - - despite the fact that they want to operate a commercial enterprise in a residential zone. In essence, they feel that they are entitled to expand the facility by 100% and operate a for-profit rehab center simply because the prior owner operated a not-for-profit alcohol rehab home at the site. This doesn't exactly jive.
A problem with their application is the timing - certificates of existing use are to be denied if the prior owner’s use ceased more than one year ago. Here, the Charlie Murphy home ceased operating after succumbing to a fire in 2016. In addition, New York State records confirm that the operators failed to renew their alcohol facility license in 2019. Finally, the original facility opened 80 years ago,long before the existence of our Town’s zoning laws, which were formed to protect residential communities from commercial development. As such, the Zoning Board should deny the application on its face. Unfortunately, it’s never that easy. The community must act if they want this application denied. A proposed facility of this size should not be able to take procedural shortcuts.
The previous operation was a 25-bed not-for-profit alcohol rehab facility. Conversely, the new operation would be operated as a for-profit corporation, as such the only concern of ownership will be increasing income while decreasing expenses - the plight of neighbors will be an afterthought. Based on the professional biographies of the 2 partners associated with the application to double the bed-count at the property – their primary business is to buy property on the cheap, juice it up for profit and flip to a new owner. If this application is granted, it’s all but a given that the new owners would flip the property to a large corporate drug rehab conglomerate with no ties to or care for the community.
In addition to the obvious increase in traffic and stress on our Town’s emergency services, if approved, the community would have no control over the character of those admitted to, visiting or roaming the facility and the surrounding streets. We can’t risk any further increases in crime, whether it be drug-related arrests or robberies. Even further, we cannot tolerate such an operate to exist 1,000 feet from our elementary school.
In order to defeat this application, the Community needs your support, we need you all to put pressure on the Town Supervisor, zoning board, planning department and Town Board.
● We need MORE phone calls !!!
● MORE letters to town officials !!!
NOTE: letters submitted to the BZA via the MAIL are REQUIRED to be saved into town record.
If you send an email ask that they read your letter into the record.
● Your attendance to the BZA meeting on January 25 is CRUCIAL.
Check the www.fortsalonga.org web-site for details
You can use the same mailing address – 99 West Main St. Smithtown, NY 11787. Please use a separate envelope for each letter though in order it arrives in its intended hands.
Make sure the following officials are copied on your communications:
#1 - Edward R. Wehrheim - Town Supervisor
(631) 360-7600 - firstname.lastname@example.org
#2 - Elected Town Council Members
Town Council Phone #: (631) 360-7621
Lisa M. Inzerillo - email@example.com
Thomas J. McCarthy - firstname.lastname@example.org
Lynne C. Nowick - email@example.com
Thomas W. Lohmann - firstname.lastname@example.org
#3 – Town of Smithtown Board of Zoning Appeals - Chairman Edward Bienz
#4 - Town of Smithtown Planning Director - email@example.com
Town Planning Department Phone - (631) 360-7540
#5 - Suffolk County Legislator Robert Trotta - Robert.Trotta@suffolkcountyny.gov
59 Landing Avenue, Suite 1
Smithtown, NY 11787