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Copiague hearing Monday on plan to reshape downtown

A plan to reshape downtown Copiague with a higher-density, pedestrian-friendly development moves a step forward Monday night with the public hearing for a 90-unit rental apartment complex near the train station.

Conifer Realty, based in upstate Rochester, is scheduled to appear before the planning board with a proposal to build two four-story buildings with 56 one-bedroom and 34 two-bedroom apartments on a 2-acre parcel at the corner of Railroad Avenue and Pine Street.

The planning board will likely release a decision on the site plan in coming weeks, Babylon Town spokesman Kevin Bonner said last week.

The proposal is the first under new zoning regulations that cover 31 acres around Great Neck Road and the Copiague Long Island Rail Road station. Passed by a unanimous town board vote this spring after years of work by town planners, the zoning is intended to spark redevelopment of an area dominated by low-rise industrial and commercial buildings. Planners say it could usher in an estimated $144 million of private construction over the next decade.

Developers in the downtown district must meet certain standards for aesthetics and materials. Projects with workforce housing and green construction can win density incentives.

Planners envision buildings with street-level retail and offices and apartments above, inhabited by residents who would take the train to work or to visit other parts of Long Island.

Rents at the Conifer buildings would start at $1,200 for one-bedrooms and $1,420 for two-bedrooms. There would be some affordable housing but no federal Section 8 housing.

Conifer is the only developer that has made a proposal for the new district, though several developers expressed interest, town officials said.

Community reception to the rezoning has been mixed, with enthusiastic support from some business owners and civic leaders but criticism from some residents who say it could lead to an influx of renters, congestion and overburdened public services.

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