Civic group asks for answers about new development proposal

Rechler continues to incorporate community requests into Greybarn

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The Greater Islip Association, better known as the Stop Island Hills group on Facebook with over 1,300 members, held a Zoom meeting on Thursday, May 5 to discuss developments with community outreach and with Island Hills owner and developer Rechler Equity Group since the Dec. 1 Town Hall meeting.

The GIA has maintained its stance as “no zone change” on the former Island Hills Golf Course property.

Secretary John Tafe presented evidence at the meeting (i.e. screenshots and links) to a possible new proposal by Rechler with a lowered number of rental units from 1,365 to 1,021 that appeared to on the Greybarn Sayville website.

It did not appear easily accessible on the website at time of print. Rechler equity group said, “There was never an official plan for 1,021 units that was posted on our live website. Any image obtained from the internet, that was not officially posted, does not represent a revised plan and was most likely an early draft from last year.”

At a town board meeting held on Wednesday, Dec. 1 at Town Hall West, seating had been filled to capacity in the auditorium (albeit limited in full capacity due to COVID regulations) with the overflow gym also standing room only.

Over 80 speakers signed up to speak about the Draft Environmental Impact Statement submitted by Rechler for development of Greybarn Sayville, a luxury apartment complex, on the former Island Hills Golf Course.

The majority of speakers spoke out against the zone change that would be required to build the original 1,300-plus apartment complex, although town supervisor Angie Carpenter specified at the outset of the meeting that the zone change was not the issue at hand and that the environmental impact was to be discussed.

Only a handful of speakers, the majority of which were not from Sayville or the immediately surrounding area, were in favor of the development, and the crowd loudly vocalized their disapproval of their stance.

In the coming days after the Town Hall meeting, a substantial number of letters were sent to the town board, with the overwhelming majority speaking out against a zone change and the proposed number of units.

While the town originally said they would collect community feedback until Dec. 31, councilmembers unanimously approved a resolution during their board meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 14, to “not entertain” the Draft Environmental Impact Statement presented by Rechler Equity in connection to a zone change to build over 1,365 apartments on the former Island Hills Golf Course on Lakeland and Sunrise Service Road in Sayville.

Effectively, the town stated, “This resolution is specific to the 1,365-unit proposal of Greybarn [Rechler] Sayville,” and would not immediately impact any future proposals of Rechler about the Island Hills parcel.

Rechler had stated that they believed the opponents of their development were in the minority and alleged in an interview with The Suffolk County News following the Dec. 1 meeting that proponents of the development in the community were intimidated to speak.

In a statement on the Greybarn Sayville website, Rechler said, “We as a company strive for perfection. If something can be improved, we will go the extra mile to do it. This is the Rechler way. Similar to this is our approach to development as it always involves community input. This is something we take very seriously… The evolution of the new Greybarn Sayville plan reflects our engagement with various local residents and stakeholder groups. We look forward to continuing this dialogue and fulfilling our mission to create something that has nothing but a positive impact on the Sayville community.”

In comparing the possible demographics of Greybarn Sayville to Rechler’s Amityville Greybarn, Rechler boasted a 97 percent occupancy rate with the average resident stay being over three years.

Nearly 50 percent of occupants at other Greybarn developments are millennials (born 1980-1994) with almost 70 percent employed outside of Suffolk County.

Rechler has not provided any anticipated or target date for a new plan to present to the Town of Islip and the surrounding community for Greybarn.

Rechler said they will continue to take in community opinion and said in a statement, “As we have demonstrated here and with countless other projects, we are committed to a transparent and inclusive process. As the process continues, we strive to include the many comments and suggestions we continue to receive.”

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