Community protests Island Hills zone change

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The Greater Islip Association, better known as Stop Island Hills on Facebook, held their third protest this year against a zone change at the former Island Hills Golf Course on Sunday, Oct. 24.

There were over 120 attendees at the protest from Sayville, the area directly affected by the planned development on Lakeland Avenue and neighboring towns, including Oakdale, West Sayville, Bohemia, Bayport and Blue Point.

Previously, the GIA held well-attended protests in the form of a car parade on Lakeland Avenue and a demonstration outside of Islip Town Hall in the earlier months of 2021.

The GIA has been steadfast in alerting the community of concerns about the proposed high-density development currently in submission to the Town of Islip from developer Rechler Equity Company, principally at this most recent protest, the traffic concerns which GIA secretary John Tafe confirmed to be an added one million trips on Lakeland Avenue and the south Sunrise Highway service road intersection annually.

Another major concern of the group is the proposed plan to mitigate the groundwater and soil contamination of the development site, which is to mix soil contaminants until it is diluted to acceptable environmental levels.

In a recent Meet the Candidates night hosted by local civic groups, current Town of Islip councilwoman Trish Bergin cited an unspecified date the first week of December for presentation of Rechler’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement and community input.

Tafe confirmed that from inception, the GIA opposes any zone change on the Island Hills property.

The current zoning is residential AAA, which limits Rechler to 81 single-family homes.

Rechler is applying for a Planned Development District (PDD) for Greybarn Sayville (the name of the high-density apartment complex to be built on the former Island Hills site).

Rechler was asked why they were opting for PDD instead of CA zoning, a zoning change that would allow for the 1,300-plus apartment complex that could assuage fears of groups like the GIA that “retail, industrial, assisted living, or other uses could be allowable in the future with PDD with town approval,” according to Tafe.

A representative for Rechler responded that they favored the PDD for its encompassing leniency and open-endedness to allow for other buildings on the property to be used as community buildings. “With a large site, it also permits flexibility in aspects of the overall site’s design. The PDD also provides us with the ability to incorporate other housing options, which we are considering, that all would otherwise require separate zoning classification under the Islip code.”

Rechler lamented that the pandemic for the past 18 months had made it difficult to meet in groups and address the community’s concerns in person, but said that their newly created Greybarn Sayville website, which includes access to the DEIS, has also generated feedback from residents.

“We look forward to continuing our dialogue with a comprehensive list of community groups and individuals to benefit from their thoughts and suggestions,” said the representative of Rechler.

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