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Upper Port Plan OK'd By Village Board

Revitalization plan calls for mixed-use zoning on Main Street, more housing units in Upper Port.

The Village Board of Trustees approved a revitalization plan for Upper Port on Monday night, one step of a continuing process as local leaders attempt to turn around the area.

The plan devised by local firm Campani & Schwarting Architects – who are also working on a waterfront revitalization plan for the village – looks at making Upper Port a more walkable area with a higher residential population, calling for changes in zoning to promote growth while adding green spaces and utilizing the train station as a transportation hub.

The board's decision to approve the plan – which was not on Monday night's agenda – comes nearly a year after a public meeting on a preliminary version.

"I think our goal was to make walkable neighborhoods with commercial uses serving the local needs, and to utilize public transportation to maybe replace some of the automobile needs," architect Michael Schwarting said in an interview on Wednesday.

The 2010 U.S. Census counted just 184 people living in the study area – which ran north of the train tracks to Sheep Pasture/North Country Road, and from Texaco Park to Oakland Avenue/Highland Boulevard. Though that number in actuality is likely higher, increasing the population able to serve commerce running down Main Street while beautifying the area with greenscapes and sidewalk improvements will be central to Upper Port's revitalization, the duo said.

Francis Campini agreed with her partner, though added beyond adding more commercial space, "I would say a component of that is to actually increase the residential population. Which isn't different from that, but a piece of that.

"In terms of revitalizing area, there is such a potential for residential, and it’s different from the general residences in area. The single-family house, typical suburban model. This is a real village model with a core. People would live there, shop there, maybe take the train to Stony Brook University, or take the bus and go somewhere else."

With the board's approval, the Upper Port plan will be used as a key part of Port Jefferson Village's comprehensive plan.

The Upper Port revitalization plan suggests that the Village Board adopt mixed-use zoning along the Main Street "spine," with commercial use on the bottom floor and residential up top. Currently, property owners can apply for residential use on top of the commercial corridor on Main Street, "but this is something we want to promote," Campini said, adding that the plan calls for allowing four-story buildings along Main Street as well. Currently, three floors are permitted at most.

East of Main Street, the plan also calls for overlay zoning on top of several parcels that only permits office buildings currently. The overlay zoning would permit residential use on upper floors, over offices on the ground floor.

Trustee Bruce D'Abramo said starting with enacting the zoning changes likely makes the most sense moving forward in Upper Port.

"It's obvious to me baced on the lack of any new applications for new construction there in the last 20 years, that the zoning is not good enough to attract development," he said on Thursday. "I'm impressed with the way Patchogue sort of revitalized their downtown area. The way they did it was reducing zoning requirements. That could be an effective way to attract investment into the Upper Port area."

Hoping to draw places for families to play, the revitalization document looks at adding a half-acre park in the roughly six acres the village owns near Highlands Boulevard, while also upgrading the existing Texaco Park on the west end of Upper Port. Though no in-depth ideas were promoted for the rest of the land, uses such as an arboretum, active recreation such as ballfields, or even housing were suggested.

And hoping to play up the train station – a structure that dates back to the 1870s – Campisi and Schwarting call for a redesign of the parking lot, from the station itself to Main Street. While several "poorly undersized" spaces fill the area between the station and the road, Schwarting said he's like to "bring the train station in better visual proximity to the street." By re-organizing the spaces, and actually gaining three more, the plan would fill in much of the area with benches, brick walkways and landscaping.

In addition, Schwarting noted that the coordination of schedules between the Port Jefferson/Bridgeport Ferry, buses, and trains should be considered to utilize more use of all three.

Mayor Margot Garant did not immediately return requests for comment.

Annie Gurl February 01, 2013 at 07:04 PM
First off, I'd be interested in reading the plan in its entirety. Is it available? Secondly, we're back to safety issues near the LIRR Station in PJ, near the shops (tried walking to Army/Navy with my granddaughter, and we had to maneuver through groups of men drinking on the street), etc. The park idea is wonderful....more than a half acre is needed. It's the best use for that land, rather than more housing in that area. Redesigning the LIRR parking lot, well that did make me laugh...makes little sense when there's so much else to do. Again, police presence (consistent and enforcing loitering and other laws) is needed in that area to keep even the current families and residents safe. Thanks to the Patch for keeping us informed on this -- very much appreciated!
Earl February 01, 2013 at 08:47 PM
We certainly do not need to pack more housing into this relatively small area. The roads are already completely overcrowded. LI is not a place to really rely on public transportation. I guess they are trying to turn this into an urban area. I guess they want to make it walkable, so the folks that will end up in this planned housing can walk to the train station and hang out all day.
Jennifer February 02, 2013 at 04:55 AM
The word already spread to the many immigrants and criminals who reside in the area. Upper Port Jeff/ PJS is where they want to be because the loiterers in the area are left alone in the area and the police are afraid if they arrest them in case of civil rights issues. The homeless need to have a weatherproof tent set up close to the area of Pax Christi so the drunk homeless can at least sleep outside.
Bryan Rivera February 02, 2013 at 01:39 PM
The town can't have it both ways. You can't pretty up the area but still keep low income housing. You can't just rezone a few plots of land to allow developers to build up and expect it will fix anything. Here's a couple really simple ideas to make an instant impact up there: 1- A right and/or left turn lane at Main and North Country so 200 cars don't have to wait for one car to turn. 2- Eliminate motorcycle parking on the street. Everyone has had to wait five minutes for some lumbering fatso to back his bike into a spot in front of Tara's. 3- Enforce loitering laws. 4- Have an officer swing by at 6 AM on a weekday and see if any of the gentlemen in work clothes waiting by the taxi stand happen to run. We all know what's wrong over there and deep down I think we're all hoping to drive through one day and see 20 police cars lining the street rounding people up. It wont happen, but it's a nice thought. The SCPD non-emergency number is 631-852-COPS I suggest people call, and call, and call when you see things until they have to respond.
Gerald February 03, 2013 at 03:36 AM
I've heard from relatives in Rocky Point that the lowlife scum of that area move to Port Jeff for some reason as well as Huntington Station.

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