Providing "cool" and affordable places for young researchers to live is a major concern in retaining scientific talent on Long Island, Bruce Stillman, president and CEO of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, said Tuesday.

"Young people want to live in cool places," said Stillman, addressing members of the Long Island Real Estate Group, an industry association of brokers and developers. He spoke during a meeting at the Old Westbury Golf & Country Club.

Opened in 1890, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is a not-for-profit research and education institution specializing in molecular biology and genetics. It employs more than 600 researchers and technicians working in the fields of cancer, neuroscience and genomic research.

Stillman emphasized the hurdles to creating affordable, culture-rich locations that appeal to the lab's younger staff scientists, many of whom live in and commute from Brooklyn and Queens.

Intrinsic to those challenges, he said, is poor public transportation on the Island and restrictive zoning ordinances created by a "gazillion" overlapping municipal and government bodies.

Citing the institution's own obstacles to development, Stillman said the lab has difficulty balancing its status as a national historic site with its desire to expand and to promote commercially viable startup companies.

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Under Long Island's overlapping government jurisdictions, navigating the maze of building permits and applications can be a "nightmare," he said.

"As a community, Long Island needs to decide where we're going to focus our economic development," he said.