The Islip Town planning department has recommended a Manhattan-based consultant be hired for an independent market analysis of the proposed Serota Properties Islip Pines project slated for Holbrook.

After some 300 people attended an emotional public hearing in March on the controversial 140-acre mixed-use plan, town spokeswoman Inez Birbiglia said Islip officials wanted to gather more information on the potential impact of the project's 460,000 square feet of retail on nearby downtowns and businesses along Sunrise Highway.

"The opportunity to seek an independent, objective point of view will give the town board a clear vision of the impacts of this project," Birbiglia said, adding that planning commissioner Dave Genaway's recommendation to hire the urban planning firm Buckhurst Fish & Jacquemart Inc. is preliminary.

He said that Serota would pick up the cost, estimated at $11,500.

"I actually think it's a positive step, and that the town is looking at things in an unbiased fashion," said Bram Weber, attorney for the Islip Pines project. "We agreed with them that an independent analysis was needed of our studies so the town could feel comfortable in the data we're producing."

Town attorney Rob Cicale said the town board will vote on authorizing the agreement at its July 17 meeting. The study is expected to take two months.

In the meantime, Weber said Serota is considering making some tweaks to the plan based on comments from the March meeting, though there are no official revisions yet.

"We're trying to see what can be done to try and satisfy some issues that were raised," he said.

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