More than 200 East Patchogue residents turned out to Brookhaven's Planning Board meeting Monday night to voice their concerns about a proposed Walmart.
The store's proposed location not far from Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center has faced opposition from Suffolk County and residents in recent months. A site application was filed in August 2008.
Longtime resident Lawrence Scinto, 83, lives near where the store would be constructed at the northeast corner of Hospital Road and Sunrise Highway.
"I'm against the project," said Scinto, who resides in a senior complex and is worried about pollution. "It hasn't been addressed."
He was one of 60 people who signed up to speak with the board. Board chairman Vincent Pascale said after the meeting he and other members will deliberate on all comments from the meeting before making a decision, which is not expected until the board's next meeting on June 9 at the earliest.
Nikki Kateman, representing The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, urged the board to reject the store's site plan.
"It's unfair competition," said Kateman, whose union represents workers at nearby ShopRite and Waldbaum's markets.
She said she was afraid that Walmart would drive away traffic and sales.
But not everyone agreed.
"Walmart provides good construction jobs when they build their stores," resident Bob French told the board.
Critics say that, if built, the 98,000-square-foot store near the hospital could negatively impact emergency response times.
County officials say 11.6 acres of vegetation must be cleared for the development.
Hauppauge attorney David Sloane, who represents Walmart, has said the retailer would add 100 construction jobs and another 250 part-time and full-time positions once the store is built. He said he did not have cost estimates for the store.
John Harter, a Hauppauge engineer representing Walmart, said the retailer was willing to invest $1.25 million to revamp two traffic lights and construct another to ease traffic. He didn't have an exact number of cars traveling on the road at any given time.
Despite the opportunity for more jobs, the Suffolk County Planning Commission rejected the application in December.
Citing the lack of "an appropriate location for such a large retail use," the planning commission concluded in a Suffolk County Economic Development and Planning Department report that "This type of development at this location should be avoided."
The town planning board still can vote to approve construction with a supermajority of five votes instead of its normal four.