Baisch at Birchwood: Oak Run

A Public Hearing for the PRC Change of Zone for the Oak Run project was held on Thursday, November 30, 2023 at 5:30pm at Town Hall. The site plan differs a bit from the one originally proposed in that the walking trail offshoots have been eliminated to retain more natural space. MICA especially values the proposed sidewalk on RT 25 running the length of the parcel and the left turn lane from MCR onto Oak Run. The Birchwood HOA Board has worked closely with Developer Mark Baisch to resolve long standing concerns about STP rights, costs and access. There was a record turnout of Birchwood residents in support of the COZ application, which was granted unanimously by the Town Board.

Developer Mark Baisch of Landmark Properties has purchased the front parcel at Birchwood at Spring Lake. Mr. Baisch is an experienced builder of single family homes as well as condos and apartments, with a notable recent project for veterans in Rocky Point. The 20+ acre property, south of Birchwood along the north side of RT 25 Middle Country Rd, was owned by Kimco for many years; it has been the subject of several major development proposals as well as much consternation. The parcel has unique “as of right” possibilities contained in the original C&Rs and building prospectus dating back to the 1990s, including the ability to use and sell the rights to excess gallonage of the Birchwood at Spring Lake sewage treatment plant– or something similarly confounding and concerning, as all STPS tend to be!

The newest proposal calls for 74 duplex, single story senior rental apartments. Each unit would be 1000 square feet, with two bedrooms, two baths, full sized washer & dryer, and an over-sized 1-car garage. Rents would be approximately $2500 a month, and veterans would be given priority in the rental application process. There will be no basements, and access to the property will be through the newly named Oak Run side street to the east, not via Birchwood Drive, The project requires a Change of Zone to “Planned Retirement Community”; Mr. Baisch estimates the approval for the COZ to PRC will add about a year to the project timeline. The “senior” nature of the apartments eliminates any negative impact to the school district, and more open space will be preserved than if the allowable, as currently zoned for, number of houses were to be built.

The Birchwood HOA Board supports this project as the least invasive of any yet proposed. In the absence of regular community meetings at Birchwood due to Covid, MICA hosted Mr. Baisch, HOA President Fran Gentleman and other Birchwood residents at its January 20, 2022 monthly meeting at the MIFD HQ. This was a very well attended meeting, with most people favoring the project, although no formal plans had been submitted to the Town of Brookhaven at that time. MICA president Gail Lynch-Bailey and TOB Councilman Mike Loguercio each urged Mr. Baisch to begin the approval process so that comments can begin in earnest. We have yet to ask if the developer will seek IDA support. The MICA Board is concerned that elder residents of the apartments may have trouble accessing RT 25 via the probably unsignalled Oak Run Drive; we also hope for a positive re-use of the empty bank building independent of this proposal.

On September 17, 2022, TOB Planning Commissioner Tullo provided the following project timeline and details regarding the proposed Change of Zone for Oak Run@ Middle Island (Mark Baisch’s project).  

“As you can see from the details, we have provided the applicant with all involved agency comments, and are awaiting a resubmission.  

  • Originally submitted 3/31/22 
  • Revised 4/11/22 

We have completed our initial review. 

  • Law department has determined that the application is legally sufficient. 
    We have received comments from: 
  • Fire prevention 
  • Traffic Safety 
  • Department of Environmental Protection 
  • Suffolk County Health 
  • Pine Barrens 

We have not heard from NYSDEC 
On 7/24/22, we forwarded all comments from coordinating agencies to the applicant, along with a planning review letter offering additional comments and requests for more details and information.  There has been some communication with them, but no substantial resubmission has been made.”

In summary, based on this planning department timeline, it looks like DEC comments are still pending, and that Mr. Baisch will make a resubmission soon based on these and prior comments received since the initial filings in March and April of this year. After that application is reviewed, it can then be scheduled for a Public Hearing for a COZ before the Brookhaven Town Council.