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Residents, Chambers Slam Islip Pines Proposal

Serota Properties says potential tenants in its Holbrook development are "not intended to compete with local store owners."

Scared.

That’s the word Sayville business owners have used repeatedly, according to Sayville Chamber of Commerce President Bill Etts, when discussing a proposed mixed-use development on 136 acres of land in Holbrook.

“Scared that all our retail business will be sucked out of Main Street,” Etts told the Islip Town Board during a three and a half hour public hearing last Thursday on the Islip Pines project. 

Serota Properties is proposing 250 one and two-bedroom housing units, more than 400,000 square feet of retail space, a movie theater and a 1.3 million square feet of industrial space, which would include a hotel, on the land at the northeast corner of Vets and Sunrise highways.  

The project was first proposed in 2008, but stalled following the death of Nathan Serota in 2010. Now back on the town’s agenda, Serota attorney Bram Weber said Thursday’s public hearing was “28 years in the making.”

“Serota Properties has paid more than $10 million in property taxes over the 28 years it has owned this property without ever seeing a penny in return,” Weber said. “If approved and built as proposed, the Islip Pines property would increase from the $500,000 in annual property taxes it pays now to $6 million per year in property taxes at current rates and would provide permanent jobs for 2,600 people.”

More than 100 people packed into the Town Board meeting room for the public hearing with dozens more watching on a TV screen outside. There was some debate over the makeup of the crowd, with many union workers, poised to benefit if the project is approved, in attendance, but when it came to public comment, the opinions generally swung in one direction.

“I bought a house 36 years ago in a quiet community and now coming into my community will be a five-story hotel,” Lenny Camarda, who lives on Glen Summer Road in Holbrook, told the Town Board. “Have some mercy on the people.”

Rick Ammirati, president of the Holbrook Chamber of Commerce, urged the board “to look at this project very closely.”

“When you enter Holbrook from 495, it says Holbrook, a great place to live, work and shop,” Ammirati said. “To live work and play concerns me. The word play is the word that concerns me. We’re playing with peoples’ lives. We’re playing with businesses’ futures. We’re playing with a lot here.”

The retail area of the project is “not intended to compete with local store owners,” said Weber, listing an Apple Store, Men’s Warehouse, Gap, Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Dick’s Sporting Goods as potential tenants for the space.

The Town Board will accept written public comment on the project through April 2, but it will still be a while before the board votes on the rezoning needed to allow the project to move forward.

Town Board members raised questions over traffic impacts in the area (namely with regard to an already congested area near Costco) and the layout of the project. 

“Would you consider clearing the slate, starting all over again?” Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt asked Robert Yuricic, an architect working for Serota.

“We would certainly look at other options,” Yuricic said, adding that Serota would like to maintain the current proposed percentages of residential/retail space. “Certainly the layout and location can be discussed and investigated.”

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one who cares March 27, 2012 at 05:05 AM
Absolutely not and you no why
Christopher D'Antonio March 27, 2012 at 06:13 AM
I think that the comments featured in this article raise some important concerns regarding this project. I also feel that the "smart growth" qualifications of the project need to be more thoroughly examined and explained. The featuring of multiple land uses adjacent to one another (residential, commercial, and industrial) is one such hallmark of smart growth. The dense walkable layout of the prospective residences is another. The location of the site near a principal transportation resource (Sunrise Highway) is an additional check in its favor. There aren't however, any meaningful links to existing transit resources such as the LIRR or Suffolk Transit. This fact cannot be concealed no matter how many pictures of trolleys are included in the site's presentation materials. This is also growth on vacant land outside of a traditional village center (Sayville) rather than investment or redevelopment in the village itself which would capitalize on existing infrastructure. The conceptual design of the site also does not feature meaningful pedestrian and cyclist connections to intra-site destinations as well as the shopping and office areas which border the site to the east and west. The omission of structured parking to allow for the construction of parks or larger plazas within the site or at the very least minimize impervious surface area for stormwater drainage is also curious and speaks against the smart growth qualifications of the site.
john b March 27, 2012 at 11:03 AM
Oh great! 2,600 low wage retail jobs....just what we need. If this passes, with such an obvious lack of support from the community, I think it's time to "clean house" in Islip town next election cycle.
KC - Sayville March 27, 2012 at 12:04 PM
They bought the property years ago knowing what the zoning was. Look at the Bellport outlets....ghost town. We need to start thinking of redeveloping areas that are distressed rather than creating new.
p perez March 27, 2012 at 01:29 PM
We have the Smithhaven mall, Main Street Sayville for shopping and other areas. Plenty of shopping. We don't need any more shopping areas. My biggest concern is the housing units. We do not need any more "housing units"-apartments really. We have enough Apartment/Condo complexes in Holbrook. It will bring down the value of ALL homes in the area. We do not need this type of housing here.
Allen Wone March 27, 2012 at 07:17 PM
To all: Islip Town Board is taking public comments regarding this proposal until April 2. Write your Town Board to oppose this development in its current design. Write to Supv. Croci, Councilpeople Bergin-Weichbrodt, Senft, Cochrane, Flotterton at 655 Main Street, Islip, NY 11751
Allen Wone March 27, 2012 at 07:18 PM
This proposal was on the table before the current slate of the town board existed. The original proposal goes back to before 2008, before anyone in charge now was around
Karen Murphy March 28, 2012 at 03:47 PM
That whole area Nicoll's Road to the Sunrise Service road to Sunrise Hwy is a nightmare already and you take your life in your hands traveling though there already. Do we need more traffic in that area? Look at all the empty stores and buildings on Veteran's Hwy. Fill those first. Like the other reader said they know what the area is zoned for when these companies buy them so why do they think it should be changed? Holbrook certainly doesn't need any more apartment buildings thats for sure. Do we really need an Apple Store, Gap Store or Dick's Sportings Goods? I don't think so! This whole thing needs to be looked at really, really closely. Are my property taxes going to decrease if they do this no way. It definitely impacts the community and the people living around it!
Hiram Walkers March 31, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Ever since the Republicans took back control of Islip Town, they are once again trying to shove these big box developers down our throats. There are at least 100 empty stores along Main Street (Montauk Highway) empty. out of business or for Rent. Just across the street at the Broadway mall are empty stores. On the other side of Sunrise is that ugly Flea market. Just a 1/4 mile away is a completely empty strip shopping center. Mr Croci should listen to the people and stop listening to his big business pro developers. Otherwise it will be a very short term
Allen Wone April 01, 2012 at 04:36 AM
This propsal existed back in 2008 during the NOLAN administration. Get your facts right... it just didnt appear overnight
confectioner July 06, 2013 at 08:49 PM
What a horrible idea, does every square inch need to be developed? We are overstored already- back of jack!

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