Hotel owners, farmers at odds over proposed zoning change

A proposed expansion of Hotel Indigo on West Main Street may be scaled back if the Town Board approves a proposal to undo a change to the town zoning code, according to an architect representing the owner.

Martin Sendlewski said the hotel’s expansion is close to being approved and the proposed change would have “the rug pulled out from under it in the 11th hour.” Mr. Sendlewski was one of the speakers at a public hearing last Tuesday to object to the change, which received positive feedback from farmers.

The change centers on reversing a zoning decision that dates back to a prior administration. In May 2010, at the suggestion of developer Lee Browning, the administration led by then-Supervisor Sean Walter approved a zoning change that eliminated bathrooms, hallways, closets and foyers from the floor area calculation on hotels and country inns. Mr. Browning, who has since built the 137-room Residence Inn and had already built the 114-room Hilton Garden Inn on Route 58, argued before the Town Board a year earlier that hotels should be treated differently from other commercial uses because areas such as hallways don’t produce revenue. Because of that, he had said, they shouldn’t be calculated as floor area.

The town’s zoning at the time wouldn’t allow the Residence Inn to be built unless its owners purchased 71 development credits off farmland that’s located in the town’s agricultural protection zone, and floor area ratio is used in the determination of how many development rights must be purchased.

At the public hearing last week, realtor Larry Oxman, representing the owner of the so-called Broad Cove site on Hubbard Avenue in Aquebogue, said that property owner has sought to built a hospitality use there but that plan would be “pretty greatly” impacted if this proposed change is adopted.

Mx. Oxman said the Broad Cove site is not even a receiving area for transferred development rights.

Rob Carpenter, the administrative director of the Long Island Farm Bureau, supported the change. He said the town, in its 2003 master plan update, had agreed to help farmers by requiring developers to use TDR in order to get additional commercial density.

The 2010 amendment on floor area diminished that, he said.

“We believe TDR is a vital part of preserving farmland,” Mr. Carpenter said.

Farmer Rodney Anderson also supported the proposed change.

The Town Board closed the hearing, other than to leave it open for written comments until Friday.

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