Residents support condo plan at meeting

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A Hauppauge-based developer wants to build a 150-unit condominium community for residents 55 and over on a vacant industrial property in Bayport, the biggest housing development in the area in decades.

The plan by Jim Tsunis of the Northwind Group, to build on 23.5 acres at the southeast corner of Church Street and Sunrise Highway, needs Islip Town approval for a zoning change.

At a public hearing before the town planning board Thursday, the Bayport Meadow Estates proposal received a near-ringing endorsement from residents who live near the site. At least eight waited for more than two hours to tell town officials of the eyesore the site has become, with trash regularly dumped along the roadside opposite their homes.

"This is a wonderful project . . . I really would like to see this go through," said Charlie Beck of 748 Sylvan Ave., a resident of 50 years.

One resident did express caution. Bob Draffin, president of the Bayport Civic Association, said his biggest concern was for proper sewage disposal given the site's proximity to lakes in the 316-acre San Souci nature preserve. The developer had said that he expects to be able to connect to a sewage treatment plant north of Sunrise Highway or, if not, that he would build a treatment plant.

Richard Wenner of nearby Wenner Bread endorsed the proposal. The developer has told Wenner that, if a new treatment plant is required, Wenner's business can connect to it.

Tsunis' representative, attorney Eugene DeNicola of Sayville, said the $62.7-million complex would include a pool, putting green and clubhouse themed around the nearby Bayport Aerodrome.

Twenty percent of the units would be priced as affordable housing. All 150 condos would have two bedrooms, and the affordable priced units would come with a one-, not two-car, garage space.

The rezoning to residential makes sense on economic grounds, DeNicola said, and because the complex would provide a buffer for nearby residents from the retail and industrial properties further along Sunrise Highway.

Speaking afterward, Tsunis, who has developed condo projects in Eastport, Setauket and Westbury, said he was delighted by the support he had received. "But we did our homework, we've worked on this seriously now for seven months," he said, "and building community support is what you have to do to be successful these days."

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The town planning board will recommend to the town board whether the site should be rezoned to accommodate the development. The town board would then schedule a public hearing before making a final decision.

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