The Process of Making Our Vision a Reality
The Middle Country Road Land Use Plan was adopted by the Town Board and is now the official guide for future development for the Town of Brookhaven. The Town has worked to implement that land use plan by enacting a comprehensive change in the zoning codes along Middle Country Road. Thousands of acres along Middle Country Road have been, or are in the process of being, rezoned, some to less intensive zoning categories and others to more intensive uses. These re-zonings will substantially reduce suburban sprawl and prevent the continuation of strip development along Middle Country Road.
The Longwood Alliance a community umbrella organization in central Brookhaven has been working to bring the idea of safe streets and sustainable development into Brookhaven since the mid 1990s. During the first part of 2002, we engaged in an intensive planning process called Visioning. The Visioning Process frees community and civic leaders from simply reacting to bad development, and instead invites the community to positively participate in the planning process. The initial stage of the visioning process has been completed along the Middle Country Road Corridor in Coram and Middle Island. However, the process is an on going one and we continue to invite all community residents, to participate in developing a vision for the future development of their communities.
An Alternative to Bad Development
On suburban L.I.. the word development has become a dirty word. It has meant the destruction of beloved historic structures, and open spaces, and their replacement by strip stores, and empty parking lots. Development has meant frustrating traffic jams, solved by ever wider roadways. Yet development need not be a dirty word. Development can help to create communities rather than destroy them.
It is the goal of the Middle Country Road Renaissance Project to humanize the built environment, to create opportunities to build connections and a sense of responsibility to the communities in which we live. Public gathering places such as parks, plazas, and other public places, serve to promote a sense of community and are, therefore, an important component of our vision.
We wish to encourage economic development by promoting density, proximity & diversity, within centers, and creating a gradient of development between centers.
The understanding about traffic flow and roadway congestion has greatly increased over the past three decades. The “common sense” solution of widening roads to accommodate traffic is now known to be a solution of last resort. The growing list of alternative solutions saves lives while reducing congestion. Our vision stresses design standards which reduce congestion, by using alternative designs for intersections, promoting choice, and changing development patterns.
Unsafe Multilane Highways
Our sprawling land use patterns and resultant auto dependence has resulted in an enormous number of auto related accidents. Wide straight roads result in faster speeds, and as speed increases so do the number and severity of auto accidents. Witness Long Islands Deadliest Roadway, Middle Country Road in Selden and Centereach. Our vision includes the latest in traffic calming methods and a street scape which is safe for all users.
Brookhaven is currently on the front lines of a battle ground to preserve significant areas of open space. Unfortunately, in community after community we are losing that battle. Dispersed patterns of suburban development have necessitated the loss of important areas of open space. In order to begin to win the battle to protect important landscapes we need to steer development away from sensitive sites and into centers. Our vision includes the development of three community centers.
Sprawl has destroyed not only our cherished landscapes but those landmarks which provide us with a window into our communitys past. The preservation of a communitys past is a necessary ingredient in establishing a sense of community identity. Our vision includes the restoration of important historic landmarks along the Middle Country Road Corridor.
The creation of a streetscape includes the traditional component of housing units above stores. This component serves to make the street safer by providing for eyes on the street, while creating an affordable, convenient housing option for seniors, and young people.