An artist's rendering of the proposed "Sandy Hills" development in...

An artist's rendering of the proposed "Sandy Hills" development in Middle Island Credit: Handout

Environmental activists have followed through on a promise to sue Brookhaven Town over its approval of a 39-acre mixed-use development in Middle Island.

The town board approved the 135-unit development, Condominiums at Sandy Hills, by a 4-3 vote last month.

But a lawsuit filed this week at State Supreme Court states that the board needed at least six votes to approve the project because of a protest petition signed by about 60 neighboring residents.

The lawsuit is backed by the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, which has opposed Sandy Hills for several years and won an earlier lawsuit that halted the development.

The environmental group opposes Sandy Hills because it would be built on virgin land within the Carmans River watershed, said Richard Amper, executive director of the Pine Barrens Society.

"It's not smart growth just because they put that label on it," Amper said.

Several town officials -- including Councilwoman Connie Kepert, who represents the area -- support the project. Kepert said Amper's lawsuit borders on "harassment" of St. James developer Frank Weber.

"There is no environmental basis on which to sue," Kepert said. "This project is taking cars off the road."

The project would be near Rocky Point and Middle Country roads. It is slated to include about 18 acres of preserved open space and 2 acres of residences built above shops.

A State Supreme Court justice ruled in April that Brookhaven improperly rezoned the property in 2009, which forced Weber to resubmit his proposal. He has said the development would have no negative environmental impacts.

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