The following is an unedited version of my recent letter to the editor that appeared in Newsday. The letter ran on May 1st, 2014.
I agree with your views on the proposed Sonic, but we, as a region, must tread lightly when it comes to allowing additional growth. As it currently stands, our wastewater and transportation infrastructure is significantly overburdened, and yet, development proposals that significantly increase density are still pushed forward without accompanying open space preservation efforts. Our tax burden is high, but sound urban planning isn’t to blame.
Residents in Smithtown and beyond must realize that with each proposal they protest blindly, their credibility is eroded when serious development impacts are poised to impact their communities. Traffic is blamed so frequently and without merit that valid traffic concerns often unfairly get grouped with a CAVE (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) mentality, and lost in the ensuing noise.
Moving forward, residents should save their energy until regional-scope projects warrant their criticism. It is the responsibility of local government to present a cohesive vision for an area, and the responsibility of the applicant to demonstrate why their project fits in that vision. Residents should be included in the planning process, and given information in an approachable, transparent manner.