Holbrook project takes big step forward

An image of what housing at an Islip An image of what housing at an Islip development called Serota Pines may look like. Photo Credit: handout

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The proposed 136-acre mixed-use Islip Pines development slated for Holbrook cleared a major hurdle this week when the Suffolk County Planning Commission signed off on a change of zone for the project.

The commission spent three hours of Wednesday's meeting on the Serota Properties-owned proposal, which includes 350 units of housing, 339,000 square feet of retail, 818,000 square feet of industrial space, a great lawn and six ballfields.

Islip Town officials had referred the project to the county because of its size and regional scope.

"The project itself was viewed by the commission as being an important kind of mixed-use development that we haven't seen much of here in Suffolk County," said Planning Commission chairman David Calone after the group voted 11-2, with one absence on the board and one vacancy, to recommend a zone change from industrial to a mixed-use planned development district.

"If it can be balanced with the existing downtowns, which are very important for the county's future, the commission felt like it can be an exciting project that mixes uses like retail and industrial all together," Calone added.

"We appreciate the overwhelming support of the planning commission,"Serota lawyer Bram Weber said after the vote.Members of several South Shore chambers of commerce and civic organizations begged the commission during the meeting to vote against the zone change, which they have repeatedly said will kill their downtowns and small businesses.

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"This development is just going to take the soul right out of Sayville," said Brendan McCurdy, president of the West Sayville Civic Association.

The commission effectively recommended that the Islip Town Board pass the zone change with two modifications: that the project's approval include a phasing schedule and requirement to maintain a ratio of mixed uses for the development -- and if possible, acceleration of the residential aspect of the project -- and that the town board should review the retail uses allowed in the zoning to determine whether they would create serious competition for nearby downtown businesses.

Next, the proposal is expected to go before the Islip Town planning board for a recommendation, before it is eventually voted on by the town board.

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