Real estate developer Donald Trump listens during a news conference...

Real estate developer Donald Trump listens during a news conference at the Old Post Office Pavilion in Washington, D.C. (Sept. 10, 2013) Credit: Bloomberg News

Donald Trump says he is interested in buying Plum Island and building a golf course on the 840-acre property off the North Fork.

"It would be a really beautiful, world-class golf course," Trump said in a telephone interview. "It would be a low-key and beautiful use for the area."

The island has been home to the federal government's high security livestock disease testing lab since 1954.

The government is selling the island to defray the cost of a new lab being built in Kansas, which is set to open in 2019.

Trump representatives have been talking to environmental groups and East End elected officials since this summer. On Sept. 13, Trump representatives met with Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) in Patchogue, Bishop's office confirmed.

Southold Town, with the support of environmentalists, has zoned the island to prevent most development. Some town residents have expressed concerns about "McMansions" sprouting up, and environmentalists say development could destroy a pristine wildlife habitat. Other federal agencies have expressed concern about environmental contamination on the island.

"Things like that could be taken care of," Trump said.

"This is only something we'd do with community approval," Trump said. "I think the community would love what we would do. We're adored all over the world."

But some advocates for preserving Plum Island expressed concern.

"This is exactly our fear, that this island will become a Club Med for the rich," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, a nonprofit group.

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