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Residents Grill SBU Officials Over Enrollment, Student Housing

Plans to increase enrollment and add more than 3,000 beds in new dormitory halls get residents riled up at Monday's Civic Association meeting.

Residents at Monday's meeting of the grilled two Stony Brook officials over the university's plans to increase enrollment and add housing space, saying those plans will only exacerbate existing quality-of-life issues in the community.

According to a presentation delivered by Barbara Chernow, Senior Vice President for Administration, and Elaine Crosson, Vice President for External Affairs, crime on campus is down; there are fewer fire alarms; there are more mass transportation options and increased sustainability practices on campus. However, it was the university's plan to increase enrollment and add more than 3,000 beds in a handful of new residence halls that caught much of the residents' attention.

Some present at the meeting worried that the increase in students would overburden local infrastructure and resources such as the sewage treatment facility on the campus, at which point Chernow said the university would still be "well within the capacity for the sewer district" even with the added students. Others were concerned with the problems associated with more vehicle traffic, at which point they were assured that parking garages and increased mass transit on campus would alleviate those problems.

But others said the perceived problem of students living off campus, many in illegal boarding houses, illegal accessory apartments, and overcrowded rental homes, has got them worried.

Former civic association president Herb Mones described the resulting problem as "essentially some very entrepreneurial or exploitive individuals who are turning these homes into large rooming homes and making substantial profits out of that" – not unlike in Stony Brook.

One resident, who described himself as a 41-year resident who lives near the university's P Lot, said he assumed students have been renting homes and rooms in the community for that entire 41-year period but has "never seen anything quite like what’s happening now."

"I think the university could help us ... if they're willing to," the resident said.

"We are," Chernow replied.

However, students living off campus is not something that the university can control – at that point they are considered commuter students. Roughly half the population of Stony Brook students are commuters.

According to Brookhaven's town code, renting rooms in one's home is illegal, and accessory apartments and rental houses must have certificates of occupancy. The town provides a service on its website whereby people can search for legal rentals; there are hundreds listed in a database searchable by hamlet and street name.

RELATED: Brookhaven enacts amendments to give the Town more power in acting against illegal rooming houses.

Stony Brook's Off Campus Housing website provides this disclaimer: "... The fact that any listing is on this site does not imply that FSA [Faculty Student Association] or the University has researched and/or confirmed that the prospective housing is in a legal apartment and/or free of any liens and/or any encumbrances by any governing municipality and/or authority. In this regard, it is recommended that any potential tenant contact the Town in which the listing resides."

Additionally, a website called Stony Brook China advocates parents of foreign students buying homes in the community for not only their children's housing needs but for investment as well. Its website reads: "Parents of students going to American colleges find it is smart to purchase a residence near the college their child is attending, especially graduate students. It becomes a long term investment, it gives the student a place to live, it provides income by having the extra rooms rented to other students."

Another website, called ULoop.com – also not affiliated with Stony Brook – purports to make students' search for housing easy. "Let us guide your SBU off campus housing search for apartments for rent, houses for rent, and college roommates near Stony Brook," it reads, and lists rooms for rent and apartments and houses to share by university. A Stony Brook spokeswoman said in an email to Patch in January that ULoop "is not connected in any way to Stony Brook University."

The new undergraduate residence halls will mostly be built in several phases over the next four to five years near Stony Brook's Long Island Rail Road station on Route 25A on existing university property, and will tie in to in the areas around the train station.

"The design [for the dormitories] is complete. We’re about to move to construction for the first phase," Chernow said.

Truffuls September 12, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Chernow's statement that SBU is being more sustainable is nothing short of a fairytale. She signed a horrible contract with the power supplier on campus that prohibits using any form of "green" power for the length of the contract. We are hemorrhaging money on power generation on campus when we could cut a great deal of that out with solar panels. With all the building rooftops and parking fields on this campus, we could generate most of the power needed using solar. I live 2 miles from my office on campus and have 40 solar panels on my roof. In the last 2 years I've paid LIPA about $30. It is an absolute farce that we supposedly teach sustainability on this campus when we don't practice it. Oh, and let's not forget the traffic problems we have already. We have 42,000 people on this campus and have only 6 egress points. When they closed the North Entrance for construction it took me over an hour to get home. The traffic was so backed up on campus that I had to go out on the Stony Brook Rd. exit, drive all the way to Rt. 347, head East and turn on to Mark Tree Rd. to get home. My home is ONE MILE from the North Entrance on Lower Sheep. And, food on campus is so expensive, most students leave campus to eat, which means even worse traffic then we have now.
joan nugent September 12, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Just great. Now we can have more drunken parties like they have every weekend on Christian Ave. The fraternity houses there have dropped the value even more than they have been. wHO would want to spend money to buy a house so that you can be up all weekend long with drunk and drugged up disgusting students from Stony Brook? Good idea lets build more housing to tear down the value of our homes even more so. As far as sustainability goes that is also a joke. They took that away from Southampton and put it here. Now they are going to get rid of that program in about 2 years. Get rid of the people who are running the university. Also the hotel should really be a lovely site for the town. WOW what have we done here. Time to move out east.
LivingSmall September 12, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Thank you for providing the link to the Town of Brookhaven legal rental search. For the record: 150 Christian Ave does NOT show as a legal rental. Cedar St, which has several student rentals, turned up with nothing legal.. A number of homes in my neighborhood which I know are rentals do not turn up on this list. When I first moved here there were a couple of rentals, nothing major. Each year I have noticed increasingly more SBU students walking through my neighborhood on their way to class. Increasing the number of students on campus will only drive more students into illegal, potentially unsafe, off campus housing -- which Ms. Chernow admits SBU is unable to control as these students are classified as commuters. As neighbors of the rentals many of us are at our wits end -- witness 150 Christian. I drove by a week ago Saturday and were taxiS dropping kids off, students stood in the neighbor's yard drinking from red cups, kids staggered on the roadside. Many a night a resident might open a window and hear loud music. This phenomena is not exclusive to 150 Christian. Having a vibrant university in our midst is attractive; as a former SBU student I came to love the community. Down the road I met and married a 'townie' and raised 'townies' of my own. Being married to someone who has lived here almost as long as SBU has been here, I have heard many stories of things lost to SBU's expansions. It's only a matter of time before Stony Brook is lost to SBU, too.
Truffuls September 12, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Moving East won't solve anything, Joan. It will just add to the traffic and time it takes to get OFF Long Island. I've lived her my whole life, within 7 miles of where I am now. My ancestors founded the town of Smithtown and our family history here goes back to the mid 1600's. Long Island has been destroyed with all this greed and growth. It is too crowded and town officials/developers are only concerned with lining their pockets with cash. They knock down the few wooded sections left to build new strip malls next to vacant strip malls.
RealTea September 12, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Call the Town of Brookhaven Law Department, 451-6500 ask to speak to Dan Balano or Mr. Moran, town attorneys, and FILE A COMPLAINT. Call SPD 852-6400 EVERY TIME you hear screaming, yelling and see hundreds of drunk, stoned students staggering down Christian Avenue and surrounding streets. Anyone who doesn't think this situation is out of control is deluded. The cops who show up to these huge, out of control parties are scared s--tless to do anything but sit quietly in their cars with the lights flashing, lest the mob of amiable drunks turn ugly and start a riot. That's how safe we are in our own neighborhoods and homes, folks!
Jennifer September 12, 2012 at 08:53 PM
I think its time for some real reporting not just Stony Brook Propaganda!! If you need info I have it. This fight has been going on since the late fifty's early sixties,,,,want to see the letters?? From Mr & Mrs Ward Melville and Robert Cushman Murphy!! We must stop the illegal housing.
Leslie plus four September 13, 2012 at 10:40 AM
Well said..
joan nugent September 13, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Moving out east for me would be a great solution., I lived in Smithtown for 42 years and raised 3 children there until it got out of control. I moved to Stony Brook 13 years ago to be closer to my family and always loved the town. I live on Christian Ave. Not a place to live anymore. Moving out on the North Fork would be great. I don't have to travel as I am retired and it is peaceful and beautiful. Good luck to all of you who own houses here and your battle with the university.
AJ September 13, 2012 at 05:57 PM
I am afraid the Town overseers in Brookhaven are only goinfg to wake up after a tragedy like Bay Shore takes place. This is not student housing . They are rooming houses that will rent to anyone who can pay. 8 People in a house with 18 cars and 2 motorcycles! Now they want to develop 25 A so that more stores and apartments can be built over the stores! This should be our main local political issue. don't forget the names of the politicians and judges when it is election time. Get your neighbors involved. this is about where we live.
C. Bery September 13, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Does anyone have the names of those politicians who "helped 150 come into compliance"? Let's get those names out there - who would ever vote them into office again???? This is a disgrace to our neighborhood. How can we get information about the Civic Association of the Setaukets and Stony Brook. I would like to join and attend. Thanks for any information!
Christine Sampson (Editor) September 13, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Hello C. Bery -- the Civic Association meets on the first Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at Emma S. Clark Memorial Library. If you email me your contact information, I will be happy to forward it to the folks in charge of the Civic Association. My email address is: ChristineS@patch.com
RealTea September 14, 2012 at 11:23 AM
The Judge that "helped 150 Christian Ave. come into compliance" is District Court Judge James P. Flanigan. That is from the TOB Law Department. He is a Conservative, Family Values candidate. I'm not kidding. The Brookhaven Conservative Party does not have it's list of candidates posted on it's website yet, so I'm not sure if he's running for reelection this year. Remember that name when you go to the poles: James P. Flanigan: Conservative, Family Values, Neighborhood Destroying Anarchist.
Don't Tread on Me September 14, 2012 at 04:17 PM
I attended this civic meeting and what I found most disturbing was SB reps position. They did not feel they could control, which I agree, what happens in the private community in regard to rental homes. But one disgusted resident spoke of 2 SB professors that owned 2 illegal dorm houses in his neighborhood. He repeatedly said that he went to every authority to no avail. We, as a community, need to stop this. Expose these professors for who they are. If you know for a fact, post their names here. We can not count on the government to assist us, we have to shame them into compliance. Get their names to SB administration, then let's see how the administration handles it. After all, they work for us, the taxpayer.
StonyBrooker September 17, 2012 at 04:04 AM
As much as I feel for you locals, it is inevitable that Stony Brook and at least a few of the surrounding towns will turn into a college town. Stony Brook is the darling institution in the State University system. Each and every year the school gets better and better. Just this past week the school jumped 19 positions on US News's list of the Top 100 schools. In addition the school is listed in the Top 40 of Public Schools in the USA and the Top 1% of institutions in the world. The school will grow larger and larger and it will force the residents of the town to reconsider their living situations. Some will stay and some will leave. It is crucial for the school, however, to grow as it brings in over $1B to Long Island. For sure, the school needs to improve their sustainability practices and to improve infrastructure as a whole, but it is impossible for anyone to curb the growth of the institution.
George Starke September 17, 2012 at 04:05 AM
You guys are out of your minds, what do you expect when you live right next to a University. There is absolutely nothing you can do about this, you can fight it all you want but it's inevitable, you live in a college town and it will only turn into more of a college town as time goes on. And don't act as if you all didn't want to have fun when you were that age, (if you didn't then i pity you), Maybe Long Island shouldn't be so uptight and allow Fraternity Houses on campuses, that way most of the partying would be contained to the campus.
you guys a delusional. you have no control in students getting off campus housing. one of the main reasons students make a decision to live off campus is bc of the savings in thousands of dollars. stony brook university is basically on its way to becoming a major force on long island. in 10 yrs this university will be flourishing and pouring into the towns that surround the university. there will be students everywhere. eventually all the housing behind the train station will be students and more students will come from campus to 25a for the bar, 7-11 etc. i suggest u guys find another place to live or if u were smart move out and rent ur house out to students. but regardless however much u fight and vote there will be a time where it all comes to an end and u will eventually "be out" and your house will be bought by an investor who will rent out to students. so just save your energy and minds and enjoy your life. a university is growing before our eyes and u guys are just starting to realize this and there's nothing you can do.
Stony Brook Neighbor September 17, 2012 at 01:43 PM
I live on the way from 150 Christian Ave to SBU Campus, and i am a senior citizen. The other day as i was driving home i ran out of gas and a young man saw that i had my hazards on and pulled over. I explained to him that i lived right down the street on quaker and he proceeded to push my car all the way to my drive way (while i steered), and then drove to the gas station to purchase me $10 worth of gas, which he immediately put into my car. After speaking to him for a bit and asking what he was doing in the area i found out that he is a current resident at 150 Christian. Quite frankly, i was shocked, it would have been my last guess. He explained to me how they have no bad intentions and would be willing to help out the surrounding community. He also explained how every Thurs, Fri, and Sat people walk from campus, or take taxi's to their house EXPECTING there to be a party. He says that their biggest issue is trying to have a SMALL party, because the members of the house constantly have to be outside regulating the influx of strangers who just show up uninvited. I suggest that if you feel so strongly that these young students are simply "Alcoholics and Drugged up", maybe you should have a conversation with them before you make such drastic assumptions. I remember when i used to Toke a little, or drink, or even have a party of my own. Sometimes we forget who we used to be. Try and remember, and maybe then you will understand their situation.
Robert Tkatch September 17, 2012 at 02:27 PM
I too live on Christian Ave, and have done so for many years. In the past I have written complaints to the town of Brookhaven, local paper, as well as contacted the local authorities. One time last year I even went over there to give the kids a piece of my mind. Earlier this month my 14 year old dog Hoover disappeared. I was certain the 150 Christ Ave house had something to do with it. I went over there, explained to them what happened, and before I could tell them that I was pressing charges, the guys assured me that they had nothing to do with Hoovers disappearance, and offered to help. 5 guys spent over 6 hours driving around the neighborhood, posting flyers and looking for my best friend. At 2am Hoover was found by one of the guys and myself wandering around Old Town rd dirty and exhausted. I apologized to the boys and thanked them for their help and support. I offered them to come over the following evening for a home cooked meal that my wife would prepare for them, they respectfully declined. The following evening the boys came over and they brought their own home cooked meal for us. We sat around the dinner table until almost midnight getting to know each other. Much to my surprise the boys are all very intelligent. 3 of them being pre-med students, who are graduating onto med school later this year, the other two majoring in Business. I am very prideful, but I admitted to them that I was wrong in the past, and would try my best to advocate for them in the future.
C. Bery September 18, 2012 at 12:52 AM
To Robert Tkatch and Stony Brook Neighbor - Maybe you can help your new friends at 150 clean up the garbage that is strewn all over the property. That house has no business being a boarding house for 40 + students in a beautiful historical town where we pay 20,000+ in property taxes. I am sure that they are nice boys but SBU needs to accommodate them on campus so they don't ruin our neighborhood. Would you buy the house on either side of 150 Christian - I know I wouldn't!!! Maybe you should be feeling sorry for those people who have invested in their homes and now live next to ANIMAL HOUSE - your sympathy is misplaced! and Mike Rotcherts - GROW UP!!
Robert Tkatch September 18, 2012 at 02:33 AM
You're absolutely right Cranberry. I discussed the garbage with the boys and they assured me that the trash was going to be removed on the following pick up date. You bring up major points that I do agree with. I too pay over 20k in taxes, and would like to enjoy my territory. However, I do not believe the sympathy is misplaced. They are just young and don't see it from our perspective. I enjoy the fact that they are willing to work with us, their neighbors, in making sure we both can enjoy the town. If you want we can pick a date and both go over there to meet the entire house, and explain to them what bothers us, and hopefully we can work out our differences. We can exchange emails. Im a professor at Hofstra Univ, and have a lot of experience dealing with guys their age. Mull it over. R.Tkatch
Robert Tkatch September 18, 2012 at 02:33 AM
C.Berry* forgive me, autocorrect.
George Starke September 18, 2012 at 04:03 AM
There are not 40+ kids living in that house. Even if the campus could accommodate kids will still be moving off campus because it's cheaper and you don't have to share a bathroom with 50 other people. Keep complaining, there is absolutely nothing you can do, your neighborhood will be overrun with college kids in the next decade as Stony Brook gets bigger and better. Maybe those people who invested in their homes should have factored in the very large state university less than a mile away; before investing in a house in the area.
Christine Sampson (Editor) September 18, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Please keep the language clean here. Comments containing profanities will be deleted. Thank you.
Jesus September 18, 2012 at 10:02 PM
1 Timothy 2:12
Truffuls September 19, 2012 at 01:03 PM
he smelled like a Troll to me... ;-) Oh, and, BTW Hay-Zeus, I'm not rich, nor drive an SUV and my retirement fund will probably consist of a cup and some pencils after the state gets done screwing me after decades of hard work.
RealTea September 20, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Wow, The BS is running kind of deep here since the last time I checked! Sentiment seems to be running between 'screw you and your house that you worked your whole life for, the laws don't matter, it's a free for all, rent or move, the greedy win, we will crush you', and; 'the boys helped find my puppy, I do believe they can walk on water'. Actually how did it work out regarding the boys cleaning up their garbage? The pile out front this morning looked like the South Bronx. Speaking of the South Bronx, how about the empty baggies of bath salts and crystal meth laying around in the street after the boys have one of their parties? How would you like your dog or kids getting into that? Me thinks maybe you earnest folk are swallowing the lies of these deceitful doper low lives. At least the 'We will crush you contingent' is straightforward and honest about their intentions. Now, you gunna let them do that?
Jesus September 24, 2012 at 11:10 PM
Ah, My Dearest Flock, As my 9th Holy Commandment clearly states, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." It does not, however, say: "Slander thy neighbor with libelous accusations of low-living, doping delinquency." I'll see you on Sunday, you have much to learn.
Dan Elton September 25, 2012 at 03:48 AM
I agree with everything you say, except I don't think many students are leaving campus to eat, at least, not for lunch. It's too hard to get off campus by car and the stuff near the train station is somewhat limited and hard to walk to. The university needs to allow more food venders in, because right now the dining halls are so crowded they are a public health hazard. One of the reasons I'm excited about the prospect of some infrastructure improvements around the train station and Nichol's Road is that they might attract more eateries with cheaper (and more nutritious) alternatives, not mention make the area more nice to walk around.
Dan Elton September 25, 2012 at 03:53 AM
I agree mostly, but I don't think the dorms are necessarily a bad thing. Consider the amount of additional spending money all those students will bring to local businesses. As the size (and hopefully, prestige) of the university grows, that will attract more people to this region. What the university needs to do is start doing random drug tests and put out a ban on off-campus drinking. (they've did something at the school I went to). Until they can set some standards for student behavior, increasing the size of the student body won't have much support from the community. With community relations already tense, it's time they started fixing the relationship.
C. Bery October 08, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Hey George Starke, How many kids do live at 150 Christian Ave.? Not 40+ then how many??With the mortgage to cover that house and the 25,000. in taxes - you do the math - how many kids do you think are REALLY living at that house? and Robert Tkatch - why can't YOU ask your friends to pick up their garbage - why do you need me to come with you? Since Sept. 17th no improvement in the disgusting mess of a house with garbage all over the place and now an attractive dumpster. Does anyone there actually go to school? There are always!!! so many cars there! What a shame that our local politicians let this happen??

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