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Brookhaven IDA rejects tax break for apartment complex on golf course

Commack-based Heatherwood Golf and Villas seeks an aid

Commack-based Heatherwood Golf and Villas seeks an aid package to help pay for construction of a planned $54.9 million senior-housing project at its South Setauket golf course. Credit: Randee Daddona

A request for property tax breaks for a 200-unit senior apartment complex at a South Setauket golf course has been rejected by the Brookhaven Town Industrial Development Agency board.

Commack-based Heatherwood Golf and Villas had said construction of the senior housing complex on Arrowhead Lane hinged on approval of the IDA benefits package. The proposal called for cutting property taxes on the 70-acre property — which includes parts of Centereach and Port Jefferson Station — by $3.76 million over 13 years.

Four of the IDA board's seven members voted Wednesday not to accept Heatherwood's application. 

Heatherwood officials left the meeting without commenting.

Area residents had opposed the tax breaks, saying they were concerned reduced property tax payments would hurt the Three Village and Comsewogue school districts. Residents also said they were worried about additional traffic generated by the residential project.

“I think it’s a victory for the community," Ed Garboski, vice president of the Port Jefferson Station-Terryville Civic Association, said in an interview after the meeting. "People were very concerned about it. I don’t see why they can’t go ahead with their project, but we’ll have to wait and see. It’s nice that at least they heard what the community had to say.”

Heatherwood officials had said they planned to reduce the 18-hole golf course to nine holes and build the apartments to bring in new revenue for the struggling club. Some of the housing units would be set aside to comply with requirements for affordable and workforce housing.

In addition to property tax breaks, the economic benefits package rejected by the IDA would have cut sales and mortgage recording taxes for the project by $3.27 million.

Some IDA members asked Heatherwood officials why they needed tax breaks to complete the project. Board member Felix Grucci, who voted against the plan, said the development would not create enough jobs to justify the package. Heatherwood had said six permanent full-time jobs would have been created.

Heatherwood managing member Douglas Partrick said tax breaks would help cover construction costs for the $54.9 million project.

"Our challenges are costs associated with infrastructure," he told board members.

Peter Curry, a Uniondale lawyer for Heatherwood, added the proposed apartments "would not get built" without the IDA's help.

In addition to Grucci, board members Gary Pollakusky, Ann-Marie Scheidt and Frank Trotta voted no. Members Frederick C. Braun III, Martin Callahan and Scott Middleton voted to accept the application.

The town board in 2014 had voted 4-3 to grant a zoning change allowing apartments on the golf course. In exchange, Heatherwood had agreed to donate 40 acres it owns in Manorville for open space preservation. That agreement is not affected by the IDA vote.

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