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The town that time forgot

David Winzelberg

As more and more Long Island towns and villages explore progressive strategies for expanding housing choices and encourage economic development, one town still clings to the ghost of suburbs past.

Led by a supervisor who’s held the top office since 1978, Smithtown seems content to hold onto its status quo: a bedroom community of little diversity, inadequate infrastructure and underperforming business districts.

The latest example: An uninspiring land-use plan that calls multifamily housing an “unwanted” use, putting it in the same category as strip clubs and garbage plants.

Business groups and developers have criticized the draft of Smithtown’s land-use plan – its first comprehensive update since 1961 – saying it falls woefully short of properly addressing downtown development and the area’s increasing exodus of young people. The draft plan from the town’s planning department asserts that the “intensity and scale” of uses like multifamily rental housing, which other municipalities are creating to help retain young talent, “should be controlled.”

And while the draft plan also acknowledges that the town’s housing stock is overly dominated by single-family homes and should have more diversity, it characterizes multifamily housing as one of the land uses that “tend to be unwanted by residents and surrounding property owners.”

Read more: The town that time forgot