Islip Town approves large Serota Properties project for Holbrook

An artist rendering of the Serota Pines development An artist rendering of the Serota Pines development in Islip Town.

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The Islip Town Board greenlighted the Islip Pines project in a unanimous vote Thursday, overcoming the biggest hurdle that had delayed the project for more than five years and forced changes to the final design of the Holbrook project.

Now the developer of the mixed-use, 136-acre project can move ahead with seeking site plan approvals from the town, Suffolk County and the state Department of Transportation.

At the packed change of zone meeting Thursday, Councilman Anthony Senft said that while the project was not "perfect," he would approve it "because it means jobs to our residents" and revenue for the town, the Sachem school district and local fire and law enforcement agencies.

Senft offered the motion to approve the project's application to change its zoning from industrial to a mixed-use planned development district. The motion was seconded by council member Trish Bergin Weichbrodt and unanimously approved by the board.

The $300 million project at the corner of Sunrise and Veterans Memorial highways includes community spaces and athletic fields in addition to 350 apartments, 1.1 million square feet of industrial and office space, and 38,000 square feet of commercial space.

The applicant, Serota Properties of Valley Stream, changed the initial plan from an industrial park and added more green space, cut 143,000 square feet of retail space, and limited building height to four stories.

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"For the sake of job creation, increasing the tax base, and putting a vacant, underutilized property in the best position to have a positive economic impact, the Town Board showed courage in voting to approve the change of zone," said Bram Weber, lawyer for the applicant, in a statement.

The development was opposed by some civic groups who called the project "overdevelopment" and argued that its retail offerings would hurt local downtown businesses.

A group of 29 residents living within 100 feet of the development site submitted a protest petition hours before the Thursday meeting to force a supermajority vote, or the approval of all four council members. The receipt of the petition was acknowledged by acting supervisor Eric Hofmeister, though it proved ineffective with the unanimous vote.

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"When you explain this project to anybody who lives in the area, they don't want it," said Bill Etts, former president of the Sayville Chamber of Commerce. "The board went against the people and voted for the big developer."

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