Island Hills once again dominates Town meeting
Local residents gathered near the former Island Hills Golf Course to protest the proposed zone change

Photo courtesy of Keri Michel

Island Hills once again dominates Town meeting

Story By: ANTHONY PERROTTA
12/21/2017


ISLIP—The Islip Town Board addressed a full agenda of resolutions on Tuesday, but, once again, the Island Hills Golf Course Development Plan, which seeks to build 1,365 rental apartments in 27 buildings (most at a height of three to four stories) on Lakeland Avenue, was the main issue during the public comment portion of the meeting. Rechler Equity Partners, the Plainview- and Westhampton-based developer, filed an application with the Town of Islip this March to change the zoning of Island Hills Golf Course from AAA (residential) to PDD (planned development district). 

“This project is of a massive scale and the building heights are totally out of character with the neighborhood,” said neighborhood resident Brian Kel. “Assuming an average of two and a half people live in each of the apartments that are planned, the population density of Island Hills would nearly match that of Queens, which is about 20,000 people per square mile.” He also doesn’t think the project qualifies as a “smart development” because it isn’t located downtown or by the railroad.

Pat Toohey, a 30-year resident of Sayville, said she was speaking out on behalf her granddaughter, as well as all the children and grandchildren in the surrounding towns, who would be affected by the development. She recalled, years ago, looking for a house and falling in love with the quaint little town. “Sayville will not remain that quaint little town,” Toohey said, “nor will Bayport or Oakdale if this continues.” She also voiced her concern about the environmental impact such a large project would cause and disagreed with the idea that millennials (which is who these apartments are being marketed towards) want to rent rather than own. “They don’t want apartments, they want houses.”

Nobody from Rechler Equity Partners was present Tuesday, but Ann Marie Jones, a self-employed contractor and former Babylon Town planning and development commissioner who spoke in favor of the project last month, was mentioned on more than one occasion.

 Islip resident Greg Pepe brought up Jones’s argument that the golf course was “defunct,” which is the same argument given for the Heartland development in Brentwood, located on the 450 acres of property that had once been part of the New York State Pilgrim Psychiatric Hospital. Pepe pointed out that the Heartland project, which would be the largest in Suffolk County, is twice the size as the proposed Sayville development. “Why would you approve that, but oppose Island Hills?” he asked. “The Pilgrim State property that [the developer] bought at the time of the closing was also AAA residential, the same as Island Hills now.”

Sayville resident Kevin Shapiro humbly asked the Islip Town Board to pass on the development. He also, in the spirit of the holiday season, composed a “naughty and a nice list,” where he gave the pros and cons of the proposed Island Hills project. Unfortunately, there were no pros for the “nice” portion of the list. “Your sworn elected duty is to represent your constituency,” Shapiro told the Islip Town Board. “I’m sure you take that seriously.”

Another Sayville resident, Richard Cannarella, believes the Islip Town Board has already made up their mind when it comes to the Island Hills development. Being in the construction business, he finds it hard to believe any developer would spend a large sum of money for the property without knowing for sure they will get back on their investment.

The town board later authorized town clerk Olga Murray to advertise for a public hearing on the transfer of the property at 12 Peters Boulevard, Central Islip, under the Direct Sale Affordable Housing Program. The board also authorized supervisor Angie Carpenter to execute an agreement with both John Jamotta Consulting LLC to provide professional services for Long Island MacArthur Airport and ICF International Inc. for the purpose of providing professional consulting services for development, implementation and improvement of the airport’s Air Service Development Program. 

The town board determined that the change of zone application of R Squared Developmental LLC may present significant adverse environmental impacts and directed the applicant to prepare an environmental impact statement.

Carpenter was given authorization to apply for and accept funding from Suffolk County Office for the Aging for the purpose of providing continued funding for a nutrition program for senior citizen residents of the Town of Islip. Carpenter was also given authorization to enter into both an amended agreement with R&W Engineers for additional design and construction oversight services of the Bay Shore Marina Bulkhead phase 4 improvements and an agreement with the Suffolk County Water Authority to upgrade the fire suppression system at Atlantique Beach Marina. 

The town board lastly accepted the donation of a damaged vehicle to be placed at Town Hall during the holiday season to bring awareness of the dangers of drunk and distracted driving. The last board meeting of the year was also Islip Town Councilman Steve Flotteron’s last before becoming the new 11th District Suffolk County legislator.