North Bellport land use plan receives mixed reviews

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The Town of Brookhaven's plan for future land use in North Bellport has received mixed reviews since its release last week.

The 92-page plan, accepted by the town board June 24, calls for reinvigorating the struggling hamlet and nearby Hagerman and East Patchogue by encouraging development of a Main Street-style business district with apartments and town houses.

The town board will hold a public hearing on the plan at 5 p.m. July 10.

The plan, posted on the Planning Department section of brookhaven.org, was crafted by town planners based on input from residents and civic leaders.

John Rogers, chairman of the Greater Bellport Coalition, which contributed to the plan, said there are "a lot of positives" in it, citing recommendations for stores, shops and multifamily housing around the Long Island Rail Road's Bellport station.

But he said the plan is vague about future uses of a vacant 13-acre area south of the train station, where many residents want apartments and town houses. The plan designates the land as an "opportunity area" or "transit district," adding that most of the parcels there are owned or controlled by the town.

"In order to provide people in the neighborhood with more housing options, we need something that's more definitive," Rogers said. "We need something that's more definitive than a question mark."

Councilwoman Connie Kepert, who represents the community, agreed that the area adjacent to the train station would be suitable for new homes and businesses.

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"I'm disappointed that it designated an opportunity area south of the railroad station, rather than looking at some sort of mixed-use plan there," Kepert said. "That's the only disappointment."She said North Bellport is rebounding, pointing to a new Boys and Girls Club that provides after-school activities for children. But she said the community lacks good jobs and housing options for residents.

"The community really is making progress," Kepert said. "It's just been slower than certainly I would like."

Rogers said many of the hamlet's young residents don't want to move away, but there are few rental apartments, and single-family housing prices typically range from $100,000 to $130,000.

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"We're losing our young people," he said. "You can only live with your parents for so long."

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