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Vote on tax breaks for South Setauket golf course housing delayed

A vote on tax breaks for senior housing

A vote on tax breaks for senior housing in South Setauket was delayed after a Brookhaven IDA public hearing.  Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

The Brookhaven Town Industrial Development Agency board has postponed a vote on whether to consider a request for $7 million worth of tax breaks to aid construction of a 200-unit senior housing development at a South Setauket golf course.

The postponement Wednesday came after residents at a public hearing spoke out against Commack-based Heatherwood Golf and Villas' proposal. Six speakers cited traffic concerns as well as worries that the tax breaks would hurt the Comsewogue and Three Village school districts.

Heatherwood has asked the IDA to approve property tax exemptions and sales and mortgage tax waivers to help finance the $54.9 million development on Arrowhead Lane. If approved, the package would cut the golf club's property taxes by about $3.76 million over 13 years, according to IDA documents. 

Residents criticized the deal as a giveaway to a large corporation and chided Heatherwood officials for saying that they could not build the apartment complex without tax breaks.

“Every little bit helps in the school district,” Gerard Maxim of Port Jefferson Station told IDA officials. “When you take away from the school districts, you take away from our children, and I’m opposed to that.”

Port Jefferson Station-Terryville Civic Association president Salvatore Pitti called the plan “a slap in the face” to taxpayers.

“We need the money for the school district. That’s the bottom line,” Pitti said. “There’s no need to give money to a company that wants to come in here, and now they have no money for it.”

Heatherwood managing member Douglas Partrick did not return a call seeking comment.

The company's proposal received a tepid response from IDA members, several of whom said they wanted to review printed copies of the public hearing comments before they voted on accepting Heatherwood's application. 

Though accepting an application usually is a formality, IDA board chairman Frederick C. Braun III agreed to postpone the vote until the panel's Aug. 21 meeting.

Board member Felix Grucci, the former town supervisor and former U.S. congressman, said he was not convinced the tax package was justified because the apartments would create only six permanent full-time jobs.

"I'm not ready to say I'm in support of the payments," said Grucci, whose family owns Fireworks by Grucci in Bellport. "I need to hear more."

The Heatherwood proposal has divided residents and town officials since it was proposed five years ago. Though some supported the plan, others said the additional homes would generate too much traffic on nearby Route 347.

The town board in 2014 voted 4-3 to approve a zoning change required to allow apartments on the golf course.

Ken Anderson of South Setauket said Wednesday that the complex would require more services such as trash collection, police, firefighters and ambulances, all of which are supported by taxes.

“I don’t understand how we’re going to give them a tax break and give them more money when there’s probably 20 million things we’re going to have to pay for,” he said. “It’s going to cost us in the long run. We’re going to pay more taxes.”

The breakdown

Heatherwood Golf and Villas is requesting an economic assistance package worth $7.036 million from the Brookhaven Town Industrial Development Agency. Here is how the package breaks down:

$3,762,000: Property tax exemptions

$2,854,000: Sales tax exemptions

$420,000: Mortgage recording tax exemptions

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