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Monday
Jul012013

Public comments on proposed Whisper Landing Assisted Living Facility

By Taylor Fleming

 St. Johnland Development Group Makes Its Case For Whisper Landing Assisted Living Facility

Public comments on proposed Whisper Landing Assisted Living Facility

After St. Johnland attorney Rich Scheyer made his presentation to Smithtown’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) the Board of Zoning Appeals then opened up the meeting to members of the community. First to the Glen Gruder addresses the BZApodium was Glenn Gruder who applauded St. Johnland for its compromises, but insisted that the building was against Town Code, which states that construction of anything on environmental sensitive lands is prohibited. According to Gruder, the three exceptions to that rule do not apply to St. Johnland. “Everything tonight is void,” said Gruder.  

Jan Vanderbaan, who lives on the corner of 25A and River Heights Drive stressed the dangers of intersection in front of his house and adjacent to the proposed site. “We’ve pulled a lot of people out of accidents,” said Vanderbaan. He urged the Board to “do something about it” before this site is considered. 

Kristie Golden, doctor and administrator, raised many concerns about the residents of the assisted living facility, including the use of wheelchairs, which St. Johnland had originally said it would not allow and the dangers of having memory impaired residents near 25A. 

Residents line up to address concernsBill Kearney presented five boards of photographs and maps to illustrate his problems with the project. He showed pictures of erosion and accidents that already occurred near the proposed site. “There’s no traffic expert better than me,” said Kearney. “I sit in my living room and watch it everyday.” He also told the Board that he has called a realtor who told him he has already lost a lot of value on his house. Following his arguments, Kearney noted that he was not unwilling to compromise, but this was not the appropriate location for this project. “There’s a lot of alternatives,” said Kearney.

Other members of the Town of Smithtown, who are in support of the development, spoke about the positive aspects of this project. Craig Andreoli, attorney in Smithtown who specializes in elder law, said he believes in the benefits of these facilities. “Living alone accelerates depression,” said Andreoli. He noted the safety, socialization, nutrition and health care aids that assisted living facilities provide senior citizens. 

Diane Carroll said she and seven of her neighbors met to discuss the project, which they were all originally opposed to. Following a very positive meeting with the developers, however, she said she believed the project was the most appropriate for this site. “We need to be careful what we wish for because this property will be sold,” said Carroll. “We feel this is the best use for the property.”

Mario Gino,  former president of the  Smithtown Chamber of Commerce, stood before the Board and reinforced the fact that developers of the St. Johnland project are residents of Smithtown. 

Following the input from the community,representatives from St. Johnland came back to the podium to address some of the questions. Overall, the group and the Board wanted to reiterate the fact that this meeting was called for and appropriate. Responding specifically to Gruder’s arguments against St. Johnland, Flynn said, “They have the right to be here.” 

The meeting was adjourned after almost three hours of discussion. 

Monday
Jul012013

Professors Diner Kicks Off Summer With Classic Car Show

Kevin Denis owner of Professors Diner in Kings Park hosted the annual Classic Car Show Thursday evening, June 27th.  Seventy cars were registered to participate in the fundraiser to benefit Angels Without Faces. The Key Food parking lot was transformed into  a car enthusiast’s dream world with cars from almost every generation imaginable.  

With music as a backdrop and the bbq’s fired up, visitors were treated to seeing and speaking with owners who shared the history of their cars.  Children walking with parents stared with disbelief as people talked of a time when cars didn’t have disc players, car seats or seat belts. 

The funds raised by the event went to Angels Without Faces, an organization dedicated to helping people anonymously, providing emergency financial assistance to families and individuals who have experienced hardships.  To learn more about “Angels Without Faces ” visit their website at www.AngelsWithOutFaces.com.

 

Friday
Jun282013

Be Fresh, Be Creative, Be Healthy - What's Cookin'? Smithtown

What’s Cookin’? – Smithtown

By Nancy Vallarella

Farm Fresh Fare

Now is the time to eat for the season. Here on Long Island, we have the good fortune of gathering local bounty from land and sea.   Fresh fruits, veggies, fish and wine with a little extra virgin olive oil and nuts are heart healthy and can lead to an approximate 30% reduction in heart attack and stroke according to the Journal of Medicine.  When quoting science, it may not sound appealing or delicious but the good news is that it most definitely can be.  Here’s how:

Go visit your local farmstand or Farmer’s Market.  Inspiration abounds there.  On a recent trip to the King’s Thera Farms Boston LettucePark Farmer’s Market, I found my muse in Thera Farms (Ronkonkoma) hydroponically grown Boston lettuce. Grown in nutrient rich water all year round the deep green, dirt-free leaves make a the perfect wrapper for your favorite summertime ingredients.  

My mission thereafter was to fill my fresh green lettuce wrappers with colorful, no cooking required goodies.  Beets!  - The magenta beauties sitting on the table of D & J Organic Farms (Yaphank) caught my eye. To complement the sweetness of these organic beets while adding some hearty texture, I chose D & J’s peppery baby arugula.   No ah hah moment required to see where this was going - beets, arugula… goat cheese! 

Coach Farm (Pine Plains/Hudson Valley) treks their goat milk products to the Kings Park Farmer’s Market every Sunday. Their artisanal goat cheese has the perfect consistency to crumble onto a salad or add to recipes for just the right amount of tasty creamy goodness. 

The prospect of making a beet and goat cheese salad with raw beets seemed a bit challenging and not necessarily appealing to the masses. There is the unfortunate loss of some enhanced sweetness due to the lack of caramelization by not roasting the beets.  On the plus side, there was no loss of nutrients through the cooking process.  My answer to the no cook requirement was to peel and thinly slice up the raw beet.  I julienned the beet with a fantastic julienne tool found at Sur La Table in just a few minutes.  Then I added a dressing containing vinegar to marinate the julienned raw beets.

Vinegar breaks down the protein in the beet and tenderizes it.  For the dressing I choose the most full of flavor local oil and vinegar option available.  Eileen Sanger Profit from The Crushed Olive of Stony Brook and author of The Infused Palate helped me pair The Crushed Olive’s Favolosa Extra Virgin Olive Oil with their Cranberry Pear Balsamic Vinegar.  The Favolosa Olive oil is imported from Chile. It is quietly spicy, grassy and herbal. It finishes with a slightly peppery kick. The Cranberry and Pear Balsamic Vinegar is white which does not discolor the vegetables or the goat cheese in the dish. The cranberry and pear flavor is the perfect complement to the plain goat cheese.

A few more ingredients went into the mix: toasted pine nuts, dried sweet cherries and diced avocado were added for texture and enhanced flavor and… VIOLA!  - Farmer’s Market Veggie Cups were born. This farm fresh fare was taste tested at the Kings Park Farmer’s Market last Sunday. The overwhelming response was, “WOW!”, “DELICIOUS!” and “AWESOME”! I doubt anyone one was thinking about all the health benefits they were getting with each bite.  

Find the recipe for Farmer’s Market Veggie Cups/Wrappers on Smithtown Matters Food and Restaurant Guide or www.facebook.com/chef.noko.wcs

Friday
Jun282013

Young And Looking For Something To Do? Check Out Smithtown's Summer Activities 

By Cristen Feeney

If boredom is creeping up on you this summer, this week could end it all. This week in Smithtown, there are more events than you will be able to attend. The fun isn’t going to come to you, you have to get out there and attend these town programs and events that are sure to enrich your summer.

If you’re a Smithtown resident, chances are you’ve been to at least one of the branches of the Smithtown Library. Monday, July 1 marks the start of the Summer Reading Program at the Smithtown Library. There is a reading program for people of every age. Literally. There are 4 different programs for different age groups, beginning at “birth-2 years” and ending at “18 and older.” Whether it’s to keep yourself on track with reading, or to meet like-minded people, sign up for a summer reading program. For more information, visit  HYPERLINK “http://www.smithlib.org/” http://www.smithlib.org/

If you’re interested in seeing a musical Smithtown Performing Arts Center is putting on a production of Grease, starting July 6 and going through to August 11. The Smithtown Performing Arts Center puts on quality productions at a low price, and it’s right on Main Street, which is convenient for many Smithtown residents. To buy tickets, visit  HYPERLINK “http://www.smithtowntheatre.com/mainstage/” http://www.smithtowntheatre.com/mainstage/

 Starting July 8, the Smithtown Youth Bureau invites children in grades 8-12 to come to their Leadership Development program. It is a 5 week course, but it’s a small commitment— 1 hour, every Monday. This program gives teens a chance to obtain the skills necessary to lead a group of their peers. For more information, the document is available here:  HYPERLINK “http://smithtownny.gov/DocumentCenter/View/523” http://smithtownny.gov/DocumentCenter/View/523

If you’re feeling the need to get fit this summer, Kings Park Dance Center has $10 walk-in Zumba classes Monday at 7:30PM, Tuesday at 6:30PM and 7:30PM, Wednesday at 7:30PM, Thursday at 10:30AM and Saturday at 11:00AM. Zumba is an awesome way to stay in shape. It’s extremely fun and it doesn’t even feel like you’re working out.

The Smithtown Youth Bureau has a Safe Summer Night Program on July 15 and continues through the middle of August. If you’re a student in the Town of Smithtown or have a child who is a Town of Smithtown Student, the program is free admission and it is a supervised drug-free and alcohol-free event. Any students middle school aged and up are welcome to attend. They also accept volunteers to help out.

If you would like to hear free music, The Hoyt Farm Summer Concert Series begins at 7PM on June 30th and is happening throughout the entire summer.  The Nesconset Summer Concert Series also begins July 2 at 7:30PM at the Nesconset Gazebo. The Friends of the Smithtown Library Concert Series at the Library begins on July 11 at 8PM. All the Concert Series are free admission and all are welcome to attend.

You don’t have to sit back and do nothing this summer, you can stay safe and have a great time, while also getting involved in your community.

Thursday
Jun272013

St. Johnland Development Group Makes Its Case For Whisper Landing Assisted Living Facility

By Taylor Fleming

Part I - Of BZA Hearing On Whisper Landing Assisted Living Facility

Smithtown’s Board of Zoning Appeals convened on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 for a public hearing of eleven legal notices. However, the BZA only heard seven of the notices on the agenda. One notice was adjourned until August 15 and six notices were closed without comments from members of the community.

A majority of the meeting was spent discussing pending legal notice 16943 regarding St. Johnland Development Group, LLC’s variance requests for the building of Whisper Landing Assisted Living Facility at River Heights Dr. & Route 25A. Prior to hearing St. Johnland Development Group, Board Chairperson Adrienne Giannadeo said she would allow each member of the Town of Smithtown one opportunity to speak and asked members of the community for “no applause or outbursts.” 

St. Johnland attorney Rich ScheyerSt. Johnland attorney Rich Scheyer was first to take to the podium. He asked the board to amend several of the variances that St. Johnland had previously requested. The company is no longer asking to increase the maximum building height from 35 feet to 49 feet and will build the 35 feet limit. They wish to amend the variance to reduce the minimum truck loading spaces from 3 to 1 and to amend the variance to increase the maximum height of retaining walls from 6 to 12 feet. 

After the amendments to the variance requests, St. Johnland was left to discuss the original and standing variance request to permit structures within 10 feet of environmentally sensitive land. Scheyer emphasized, however, that with regards to environmentally sensitive land, “only 12.1% of the site will be affected” and the building presents no impact for endangered species populations. 

St. Johnland brought in John Breslin of Breslin Appraisals to discuss his study of the variances. “A bulk of the original site will remain essentially green,” said Breslin. He stressed that St. Johnland will minimize the use of environmentally sensitive lands by pulling the structure towards 25A. In conclusion, Breslin said the “totality of the circumstances” does not violate the variance and does not adversely affect the surrounding neighborhood.

Scheyer then asked Thomas Mazzola, an expert on traffic safety, to speak on behalf of St. Johnland. Mazzola suggested that the assisted living facility would generate very little traffic except for around 20 employees for day and evening shifts, 6-8 employees for overnight shifts and a few visitors around lunchtime. Mazzola believes very few of the residents will drive themselves. Although St. Johnland is requesting 80 parking spaces, Mazzola said, “the actual need will be around half that.”

Finally, Scheyer brought in Thomas Cramer, a landscape architect, to discuss the environmental issues of the site. Quoting the Smithtown Town Master plan, Cramer suggested that there is a greater need for assisted living facilities over nursing home facilities. He described Whisper Landing as “almost like a clubhouse for [seniors].” Cramer discussed the 7 categories of environmentally sensitive lands and rendered all except one irrelevant to the St. Johnland site. “The only issue we have are the steep slopes,” said Cramer. Building on steep slopes presents environmental issues like erosion, but Cramer declared that most likely less than 40% of the steep slope will be disturbed at the site. 

David Flynn, Assistant Town Planning Director, raised several questions for Cramer regarding soil permeability, the visual aspects of the building and the noise impacts of the facility. Cramer was accommodating to Flynn’s arguments, stating that St. Johnland would be open to innovative drainage techniques, and has already suggested a chromoglass self-contained sewage treatment facility. He said St. Johnland was also planning to buffer the noise and compromise on the visual impacts of the structure. “A lot of intention went into the design of this building,” said Cramer. “We want it to become part of the community.”

Part II Residents Comments to follow Saturday June 30