Tullio Bertoli is retiring as Brookhaven planning director.

Tullio Bertoli is retiring as Brookhaven planning director. Credit: Newsday/Audrey C. Tiernan

Longtime Brookhaven Town planning director Tullio Bertoli will retire at the end of the month after more than a decade crafting major housing and commercial developments as well as land preservation projects.

Bertoli, 69, whose last day will be Friday, worked mostly behind the scenes to shape a lauded effort to limit development along the environmentally sensitive Carmans River watershed and guide the development of transformative residential and retail projects, such as the Ronkonkoma Hub.

In an interview Wednesday, Bertoli said he decided to retire after completing an unspecified plan to preserve hundreds of acres of wooded property. He said he plans to spend several months traveling after leaving his post.

“I’m at a time, after 10-1/2 years, that I’ve done everything I wanted to do," he said. “I actually planned to leave Jan. 1, but I wanted to finish some stuff.”

Bertoli, who had previously worked as a consultant for private developers, was appointed town planning chief in 2009 by then-Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko, a Democrat, who resigned in 2012. Bertoli was retained by Supervisor Edward P. Romaine, a Republican, when he won a 2012 special election to succeed Lesko.

Bertoli's successor could be named later this week, officials said.

Romaine last Thursday called Bertoli "a planning commissioner that had a vision for the town” and "a delight to work with."

“His leaving leaves a big footprint on the town," Romaine said. "He made a difference. He will be missed.”

Bertoli said he was most proud of helping to develop Brookhaven's landmark 2013 Carmans River Conservation and Management Plan and overseeing the development of mixed-use projects, such as the Ronkonkoma Hub and The Meadows at Yaphank. He added he led efforts to update town building codes.

Bertoli was praised by both developers and environmentalists, who said he balanced a love of building big projects with attention to environmental concerns, such as open space protection.

Richard Amper, executive director of Riverhead-based Long Island Pine Barrens Society, said municipal planning directors tend to be pro-development, especially in Brookhaven, and he was initially skeptical of Bertoli because of his private-sector background. But Amper said Bertoli played a key role in crafting the Carmans River plan, which seeks to protect the 10-mile watershed through a combination of tough zoning and acquisition of land for open space preservation.

“I think he grew a lot in the position,” Amper said. “He was very fair minded, and he got great satisfaction out of innovative things like the Carmans River campaign. ... Every time I needed to engage him, it was reasonable and fair and productive.”

Bertoli also was a strong supporter of the $600 million Ronkonkoma Hub, said Rob Loscalzo, chief operating officer of East Setauket-based Tritec Real Estate, which is building the development. When completed in about 10 years, the project, which could have up to 1,450 apartments and 545,000 square feet of retail and office space on 50 acres, is expected to transform a struggling neighborhood near the Ronkonkoma train station.

“He’s always been a supporter of doing what’s right,” Loscalzo said, adding Bertoli helped to “reimagine what this community could be.”

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