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Sayville residents renew efforts to block proposed Greybarn apartments

Opponents carrying signs and wearing T-shirts with slogans

Opponents carrying signs and wearing T-shirts with slogans gathered Oct. 12 outside the site of a proposed luxury apartment complex to protest the project. Credit: Raychel Brightman

Sayville residents opposed to a 1,365-unit luxury apartment proposal at a shuttered golf course are gearing up for a renewed attempt to stop or shrink the size of the plan.

Following a three-year period during which plans for the proposed Greybarn Sayville project on Lakeland Avenue have languished amid a complex review by Islip Town officials, opponents have begun holding rallies to draw attention to their concerns.

About 30 opponents carrying signs and wearing T-shirts with slogans such as "Save Sayville" and "Stop the Zoning Change" gathered outside the site for an impromptu rally last Tuesday. Dozens of drivers honked in apparent support as opponents waved placards at the corner of Lakeland Avenue and 11th Street.

A larger demonstration is planned there at noon on Oct. 24.

Some said the long delay, during which opponents said they’ve received little information from Plainview-based developer Rechler Equity Partners, has been frustrating.

"It always feels like they’re trying to wait us out," said John Tafe, of Sayville. "They have not been transparent with us. We have a website [that provides more information] than they do."

Rechler in 2017 asked Islip officials to change the zoning at the site — formerly the Island Hills Golf & Country Club — from residential to planned development district to allow multifamily housing.

The plan was met with immediate opposition from Sayville residents, who raised questions about the $500 million project’s size, four-story building heights, traffic and environmental concerns.

Islip officials said Friday that a hearing on the project is planned for December.

Rechler officials said Tuesday that they are planning to "present a revised, community-enhanced plan," though they outlined no specific alterations.

"Since we first introduced our initial plan for Greybarn Sayville some four years ago, we’ve been hard at work listening to the community’s feedback to ensure this project ultimately produces the best possible asset for Sayville residents and the surrounding area," Rechler co-managing partner Gregg Rechler said in a statement.

Rechler officials have said that apartment rental prices would start around $2,300 per month for a one-bedroom unit. An undetermined number of units would be classified as affordable or workforce housing and would cost less, they said four years ago.

Some opponents said last week that they would accept a smaller development with fewer units, preferably single-family homes instead of rental apartments.

Milynn Augulis, a Sayville resident and president of the Greater Islip Association, which was formed to oppose the project, said the group has hired environmental and traffic consultants to review the Greybarn proposal. She said the group has raised $25,000 through auctions and online fundraisers.

Augulis and other opponents point to heavy traffic on Lakeland Avenue, where two lanes of southbound vehicles narrow into one lane as they pass the Greybarn site. Rechler has offered to provide shuttle buses for Greybarn residents to reduce traffic going south to downtown Sayville.

Augulis said the traffic volume during Tuesday’s rally proved her point.

"You want to put 1,300 [to] 1,400 apartments," Augulis said as cars and trucks whizzed past demonstrators. "Then can you imagine what this flow is going to look like?"

APARTMENT ANGST

Some of the issues raised by residents opposed to Greybarn Sayville, at the former Island Hills golf course on Lakeland Avenue:

Building height: Some residents said the proposed four-story buildings were too tall for the surrounding residential community.

Rentals: Residents expressed a preference for for-sale housing, preferably single-family homes, including some reserved for seniors.

Environment: Residents said the property’s previous use as a golf course raised the likelihood that the ground was polluted with pesticides and fertilizers.

Park: Some residents were opposed to a proposed perimeter park and said there should be more green space between buildings in the complex.

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