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Islandia mayor concerned about sewer lines crossing into his village

Islandia Village Hall, 1100 Old Nichols Rd., on

Islandia Village Hall, 1100 Old Nichols Rd., on April 9, 2013. Credit: Brittany Wait

The village of Islandia has filed a formal complaint asking for a review of Suffolk County's proposed sewer line to serve the Ronkonkoma Hub development.

Last Thursday, village officials filed an Article 78 administrative challenge naming the county, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, and several local agencies and municipalities.

The challenge is a response to a decision last month by DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens to designate Suffolk as the lead agency on the project to build seven miles of sewer lines from the 58-acre Ronkonkoma Hub mixed-use project to a Central Islip pumping station and a West Babylon wastewater treatment plant.

Islandia Mayor Allan Dorman said he wants a full review because the village has concerns about how the project is being managed by the county as lead agency, and said the plan to build the sewer lines along Johnson Avenue would disrupt Islandia residents.

This is not the first time Dorman has criticized the county over decisions affecting Islandia. The village is also suing Suffolk County over the loss of revenue from traffic tickets issued on the parts of the Long Island Expressway that run through Islandia. The fees are now collected by the county instead of the village's Justice Court.

In this case, Dorman said he believes the county has not followed state guidelines governing environmental reviews. "We want it handled correctly. We want to have public hearings on it," he said. "We want the public to know what's going on."

In 2012, the county proposed a $21 million sewer plant on the site of the Hub project, where 1,450 apartments and 555,000 square feet of retail and office space are planned. Last year, the county decided instead to connect the hub to the Southwest Sewer District in West Babylon, saying it would save between $2 million and $3 million and reduce construction time by six months.

"Why isn't the sewage treatment plant being developed at the Hub?" Dorman said.

In a statement, DEC spokesman Bill Fonda said the DEC "properly determined that the Suffolk County Department of Public Works should be lead agency."

County spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter said in a statement, "We agree with the determination of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and disagree with the position of the Village. Suffolk County will oppose the Article 78."

Dorman said the Town of Brookhaven was originally designated the lead agency on the hub project and questioned why Suffolk was now taking that role. Brookhaven officials declined to comment on the Article 78.

Islandia's concerns have already garnered the attention of Islip Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt, who is working with a group of county legislators and state officials to look at alternate sewer routes that would skirt Islandia and instead run through Sayville, Great River and Oakdale.

"If the village does not want the sewer line to run through Islandia, then I am more convinced than ever that my work to redirect the line along the South Shore is the right way to go," Weichbrodt said in a statement.

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