Lake Ronkonkoma Civic Organization

Brookhaven Town Board Modifies Zoning Variance Notification Requirements

The Lake Ronkonkoma Civic Organization attended the Brookhaven Town Board Meeting Tuesday Evening October 29, 2014. One notable item on the agenda was a Public Hearing on a proposal to modify the notification requirement for Variances. Variances are building and site plan designs that do not comply with Town requirements. When a property owner requests a Variance the Town schedules a public hearing on the matter. The Town code requires that the property owner requesting a Variance notify all property owners within 500 feet of the Public Hearing by USPS certified mail. The proposed modification would require certified mail for property owners within 200 feet and regular US mail for property owners 201 feet to 500 feet.

The basis for the proposal was twofold.
1. Certain property owners have balked at the cost of certified mail for minor Variances.
2. Certain Board expressed a belief that certified mail is actual less effective than regular mail getting people’s attention. The belief is that folks put off going to the post office to pick up certified mail on the assumption that only bad news comes through that vehicle. Furthermore they stated that Town records show that a significant portion of such mailings are never delivered.

There was an active dialogue amongst the Board members and with speakers from the community about the importance of transparency. Some strongly stated that any move to reduce transparency was a move in the wrong direction. Others spoke passionately about the ineffectiveness of certified mail.

The Board made it clear that this proposal did not apply to requests for change in Zone but only to Variances. Changes in Zone would still require certified mail for all properties within 500 feet.

The conclusion was that the Board voted to adopt the new approach.