McKeown sisters at Beaver Dam Creek and South Country road

Brookhaven & South Haven Hamlets

Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County, New York

Brookhaven/South Haven Hamlets Study

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We have addressed the matter of commercial uses of land within the study area. We have found a broad consensus within the community – as reflected in the responses to our questionnaire, and in the opinions voiced at public meetings – that there is no need to expand the amount of land available for future commercial development. There is a concern that certain properties within the two Hamlets are vulnerable to downzoning, which would create unwanted industrial zones and shopping centers. (No one responding to our questionnaire expressed dissatisfaction with the availability of shopping in the area, while many expressed their alarm and outrage over the proliferation of empty strip malls and vacant shopping center space in the surrounding area.) We also find examples in the study area where the proposed "Marine Commercial" zoning designation may be more appropriate than existing J-2 zoning; however, we make no specific recommendations in this regard as we feel that this proposed new zoning designation needs to be more precisely specified, and its consequences for landowners better understood.

In recommending extensive land preservation in the study area, along with no further expansion of commercial land use, we are mindful of concerns by some in the community that this might have an adverse economic impact by reducing or slowing the growth of tax revenue. We have found that, when given some thoughtful study, such concerns are readily put to rest. We are persuaded by statements such as that by the Dutchess County Planning Department, in a publicly distributed memo (1991): "More and more studies are showing that conserving open land and choosing carefully those areas that should be developed is not contrary to economic health, but essential to it. Preserved lands require very little in the way of tax-supported services (birds don’t send their children to school); giving land conservation a high priority encourages more cost-efficient development; open space protection saves public funds by preventing development of hazardous (e.g., flood-prone) areas; conserving land allows nature to continue its valuable work, such as the recharge and purification of groundwater; open space increases the value of nearby or adjacent property."

Finally, throughout the process of preparing this Hamlet Study, there was much discussion of "quality of life" issues. Many of these issues are endemic to modern life in our society, and on Long Island in particular. Items such as taxes, LILCO rates, and the quality of schools are the most frequently cited examples. These are not matters that can be solved at the very local level of this study. There are, however, things happening in the areas surrounding our Hamlet’s boundaries that have a direct impact and need to be addressed. One of the chief among these is the operation of the Brookhaven Town landfill, and, by extension, the long-term solid waste management plan for the Town. This matter is addressed in our recommendations.