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Public hearing on tax breaks for Amazon's Syosset warehouse set for March 16, IDA says

An Amazon warehouse is planned for the Cerro

An Amazon warehouse is planned for the Cerro Wire site. Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

The Nassau County Industrial Development Agency will hold a virtual public hearing March 16 on a request for tax breaks for the proposed Amazon "last-mile" warehouse in Syosset, officials said.

The hearing, originally scheduled for Feb. 23, was canceled to give Syosset Park Development LLC and Amazon more time to meet with construction unions who want their members to build the 204,000-square-foot warehouse on the old Cerro Wire site.

Nassau and Oyster Bay Town officials also need to hold additional talks on the $72 million project.

"The hearing was postponed because we are continuing to work with Amazon and the various stakeholders and parties," IDA chairman Richard Kessel said at last week's virtual board meeting. "The plan is to do a public hearing in March…We will then assess all of those comments" before any vote is taken on final approval of the tax breaks, he said.

Kessel said on Monday the time of the public hearing would be forthcoming. The next IDA board meeting is March 18.

Syosset Park and Amazon are seeking a sales-tax exemption of up to $2.8 million on the purchase of construction materials and equipment; $537,750 off the mortgage recording tax; and a property-tax reduction over 15 years, according to their IDA application.

"We’re trying to make this happen and make it happen right," Kessel said, referring to county and town deliberations. He sent a letter to Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino last week seeking written confirmation of Saladino's past vocal support for the Amazon warehouse.

Oyster Bay spokesman Brian Nevin said on Friday, "Supervisor Saladino courted Amazon to create hundreds of jobs in [the town] and continues to support the project."

Last month, Oyster Bay's Planning Advisory Board approved the warehouse construction plan. The only town action still to come is the issuing of building permits, Nevin said.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, citing decades of controversy over the reuse of the old Cerro Wire property, said she is "focused on finally seeing this site redeveloped...I am glad that [Amazon] is working to address the community's issues and secured the support of the town," she said on Friday.

She said she is "confident" the "IDA will closely review Amazon's request [for tax breaks] to ensure a significant net benefit to our residents for years to come."

The company's request is opposed by the Syosset Central School District and Nassau Legis. Arnold Drucker (D-Plainview). They and others, citing Amazon's billions of dollars in yearly profit, said the retailer doesn't need tax breaks that only will increase the tax burden on homeowners and smaller businesses.

The IDA also plans to review comments submitted to the state Department of Environmental Conservation about the developer’s plan for additional cleanup of copper, petroleum chemicals and other pollutants on the 38-acre site. The project cannot move forward without the cleanup plan winning state approval.

Amazon would hire 150 warehouse workers, with managers earning $60,000 per year and package handlers at least $15 per hour. Additional jobs would be created by the independent transportation companies whose van drivers would pick up and deliver the packages, according to the IDA application.

The Syosset "last-mile" warehouse is among at least eight that Amazon hopes to have on Long Island. The company appears to have only sought IDA help for two warehouses: Syosset and Westhampton Beach, which in November was granted $2.3 million over 15 years by the Suffolk County IDA.

The Syosset facility would be about six miles from another, larger Amazon warehouse being proposed for Melville.

Newsday reported last week the retailer has rented two buildings, totaling 309,500 square feet, at 1770 Walt Whitman Rd. and 540 Broad Hollow Rd. The locations had been used by Rubie's Costume Co. Inc. before it filed for bankruptcy protection last year.

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