A contaminated property in Lindenhurst that has been a thorn in the side of nearby residents and local government for nearly three decades is on the road toward development.
The site at 269 E. Montauk Hwy. once housed a service station and was originally owned by Jericho Marine. It was identified as a brownfield in the late 1980s and was abandoned in 1995, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Property taxes on the site have not been paid since 1988 and have accrued to more than $844,000.
After a long-standing agreement with a local business owner to clean up the site and repay the taxes fell apart in 2014, the town demolished the dilapidated building and the DEC remediated the property for any environmental hazards.
Last year the site was brought into Suffolk County’s land bank, which aims to get tax-delinquent abandoned properties back on the tax rolls. Doing so allows such properties to be transferred to new owners for less than the amount of taxes owed.
At a news conference last week at the site, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said officials had been “banging our head against the wall” over the property for decades.
“This site is a classic example of the problem that has existed across this county and across this state with brownfield properties,” Bellone said. “No one in the private sector is going to take on an environmentally contaminated property that has a huge tax bill on it.”
Bellone announced that a new agreement had been reached between the land bank and the DEC as well as the state comptroller’s office to share environmental and other information on these types of sites, confirm limits of liability and allow these agencies to recoup a portion of the costs they invest in the site.
Since it was formed in 2013, the land bank has identified more than 130 properties in Suffolk that are both tax-delinquent and “potentially environmentally challenged.” In January a request for proposals was sent out by Suffolk County for eight sites. Joseph and Samuel Habibian, who agreed to pay $120,000 for the Jericho Marine property, were selected.
Samuel Habibian said he plans to build 5,000 square feet of retail space on the site. He said the building will likely be one story and hold three to five businesses, one of which may be an urgent care center.
Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer said the Habibians have a “good track record” of developing similar contaminated properties in Nassau County. “It’s good to have somebody with a familiarity of the issues,” he said.
Mario Braga, 73, board president for the Narragansett Villas Condominium Association across the street from the site said he’s glad the property will return to the tax rolls.
“Right now it’s just an eyesore, so it should do nothing but help the neighborhood,” he said of the development.
Thomas Gruter, 54, lives around the corner from the site and said for years the property was a nuisance, with overgrown weeds, and rats and raccoons taking up habitat.
“I’m happy they’re doing something with it because it’s been a horror for too long,” he said.
Other county properties
In January, Suffolk County put out requests for proposals for eight properties that are tax delinquent and “potentially environmentally challenged.” According to county spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter, of those, two properties are still being negotiated with developers and another two did not receive viable offers and will be bid out again. The remaining four are:
- Jericho Marine, 269-271 Montauk Hwy., Lindenhurst
Developer: Joseph and Samuel Habibian
Proposed development for the site is retail and commercial space
- Stein and Giannott property, 95 Eads St., West Babylon
Developer: Joseph and Samuel Habibian,
Proposed re-use of the site is for dry industrial, warehouse and office space
- Liberty Industry Finishing, 500-550 Suffolk Ave., Brentwood
Developer: A.D. Real Estate Investors
Proposed development is for retail, office and a bank shopping center
- Steck Philbin Landfill, Old Northport Rd., Kings Park
Developer: Powercrush Inc.
Proposed re-use of the site is for solar farming