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Brookhaven Town approves zoning for new golf driving range

This Drawing from the plan of Oct. 4,

This Drawing from the plan of Oct. 4, 2017 shows the proposed Top Golf facility in Holtsville, it would be the national chain's first location in New York. Credit: Suffolk County Planning Commission

The Brookhaven Town Board has approved zoning changes to clear the way for a golf driving range and restaurant in Holtsville, despite opposition from neighboring residents.

Dallas-based Topgolf plans to build the driving range — its first in New York — on a vacant industrial site between Lakeside Drive and Morris Avenue, near Exit 62 of the Long Island Expressway.

Topgolf’s restaurants and bars feature adjoining balconies from which patrons can hit golf balls to outdoor greens. The company operates dozens of similar facilities across the country, including one in Edison, New Jersey.

The town board voted 6-0 Tuesday to change the Holtsville site’s zoning to commercial recreation, and approved special permits to allow the driving range and a restaurant. Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine abstained from the vote.

About 13 people who spoke at a public hearing before the vote were almost split between supporters and opponents of the project.

Opponents said they worried about noise and traffic caused by the facility, and the possibility of errant golf balls landing in their yards.

“I’m going to hear the pings of the golf balls,” Stephen Ziegler of Holtsville said. “Why do you want to lower my property value?”

“Who wants to live near a bar?” said Gregg Freedner, a member of the Lake Ronkonkoma Civic Association. “I don’t think when these people bought their houses that they thought that you’re going to be living next door to a bar that would be blasting music all night long.”

J. Timothy Shea, a Hauppauge lawyer for Topgolf, said studies had shown noise caused by the facility would be within town limits.

Its operations would include netting to keep balls from leaving the premises, Shea said, adding Topgolf uses “modified” balls that don’t fly as far as regular golf balls.

Shea said the facility would create more than 400 permanent jobs, and host charity events and programs for children and families.

Supporters touted the facility as a welcome addition to the area’s entertainment venues.

“It’s a great place to bring my family,” said Mario Salgado of Holtsville. “It’s a great place to hang out with friends.”

Romaine said he abstained from the vote because he “listened to the residents. I think there’s a better site.”

He spoke to Topgolf officials after the vote about a vacant site in Medford where Suffolk County Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. previously had considered building a video-lottery casino.

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