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Planning board closes hearing on Vineyard View

The public hearing process for Vineyard View has finally come to a close, after being proposed in December.

“The local approval process has helped us appreciate some of the concerns and sensitivities of the community,” Conifer Realty, LLC vice president Allen Handelman said.

The proposed Vineyard View project includes seven buildings containing 14 one-bedroom, 22 two-bedroom and 14 three-bedroom apartments on a 17.2-acre site on County Road 48 in Greenport. A community center is planned for the center of the property along with picnic tables and a playground. 

Concerns from previous public hearings included protection to the nearby wetlands, traffic on Route 48 and what would be affordable in perpetuity.

According to Mr. Handelman, the project’s current funding sources from New York State and Suffolk County require them to maintain affordable housing for 50 years, at 50 and 60 percent of the area median income.

In May, New York State awarded Vineyard View $5.7 million in funding.

He also said Conifer Realty is committed to using organic fertilizer and pest control measures, along with energy efficient appliances in the apartments.

Martin Finnegan, an attorney representing neighbors directly across from the proposed site, brought up their concerns, which mainly focused on traffic safety. His clients want a left hand turning lane into Vineyard View for westbound traffic on Route 48. 

“My clients feel that this is an essential component for safe ingress and egress to the site,” he said. “The traffic congestion is greater than ever, with the ferry traffic increasing… the lavender farm, local wineries and the growth of Greenport as tourist destination.”

He urged the board to work with the County Department of Public Works to revisit the idea of a turning lane.

“To introduce an additional 50 families here is going to clearly have an impact,” Mr. Finnegan added. “Our clients have a tremendous amount of difficulties just getting out of their properties, just making a left turn on that stretch of the North Road is virtually impossible.”

He also asked that the speed limit be reduced from 50 miles-per-hour to 40, and to require the applicant to have a site-specific traffic study. His clients wanted to make sure the property would be properly screened as to protect the scenic byway.

Ray DiBiaso, traffic engineer, said he studied the area and that there are no trends in accidents besides for deer strikes, so he does not see a separate study as a necessity.

Planning Board Chairman Donald Wilcenski asked Mr. DiBiaso to submit his findings in writing. The board closed the public hearing, but left a two-week window for written comment.

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