Town moves closer to forming North Bellport business district

Miracle Plaza shopping center in North Bellport on Miracle Plaza shopping center in North Bellport on March 13, 2014 is near the intersection of Station Road and Montauk Highway, where the Greater Bellport Coalition is seeking to create a revitalized business district. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

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Brookhaven Town Board members and civic leaders are moving closer to forming a business district in North Bellport that could include new housing and a sewer system.

The Greater Bellport Coalition drafted a report in 2007 asking the town to craft a land use plan to create a business district around the intersection of Montauk Highway and Station Road.

Coalition chairman John Rogers said the move was later approved by the town board and touted as the first step in turning North Bellport into a viable business community.

Rogers said the hamlet is now seeing the construction of a BJ's Wholesale Club and has already seen the $1 million renovation of Robert Rowley park. And a new community care center is set to open in a few weeks.

On a broader scale, Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine will outline a plan Tuesday to help create the North Bellport business district and to help revitalize the entire hamlet. He is expected to announce plans to introduce a resolution to begin the environmental review process for the business district's land use plan.

Also, the supervisor is expected to discuss grant money the town has already received to pay for the study of 88 properties in the hamlet that may require remediation. He also said he is targeting 110 vacant or abandoned homes to refurbish and sell below market value to spruce up the hamlet.

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"We want to breathe life back into a community that is essentially dying," he said.

Rogers is working with Romaine and Town Councilwoman Connie Kepert to help revitalize the hamlet.

"We have a priority to make these streets safer and better," Rogers said, noting how they also have been working with Suffolk County police to crack down on crime.

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Kepert, who represents North Bellport, and Romaine both said the proposed downtown district needs developing, but differ slightly on how to do it.

Romaine said he believes rezoning an existing strip mall to a downtown district is the best approach while continuing to pursue federal, state and county grants for a new sewer system for the area.

Kepert, who favors a broader redevelopment approach and envisions a transit-oriented, mixed-use development with housing and pedestrian-friendly uses, said her plan allows for more shops and stores.

Kepert said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone backed her plan after a meeting about six months ago, and that developers are interested in building on a 14-acre wooded site adjacent to the Bellport train station. The LIRR station sits across the street from the proposed business district.

Kepert said there is room for a 135-unit apartment complex on the wooded site and that some developers may be willing to pay as much as $1.6 million to expand sewers in the area by tying into an existing nearby plant. Romaine said he believed expanding sewers into a new business district would be more expensive.

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