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Islip pols eye use limits in town land sale

When Islip officials announced plans to sell a town-owned parcel to a restaurant developer, they said the new owners would be on their own if the property needed to be rezoned.

Thursday, town board members are scheduled to ask the Islip Planning Board to lift a series of deed covenants and restrictions on the property, limitations town officials say could derail the sale.

Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt, who negotiated the sale as part of a new initiative she spearheaded to sell off underutilized town land to put a dent in the town's $26 million budget deficit, defended the move, saying the change would have been requested on behalf of whoever wanted to purchase the property.

The town received three offers on 2.45 acres at Carleton Avenue and Union Boulevard in East Islip -- which houses the town's light-vehicle repair and maintenance shop for Islip's Department of Public Works. Officially, the site is limited to use as a car dealership and automobile showroom.

The owners of the Bohlsen Restaurant Group made the highest offer at $3.2 million -- $500,000 more than the land's assessed value -- town officials said, and the town board unanimously approved the sale last month.

"If they feel it's appropriate to keep the c and r's [covenants and restrictions] in there, they can keep the c and r's in there . . . I don't know how they're going to vote," said Bergin Weichbrodt, who said the planning board is not being pressured to approve the deal.

A spokeswoman for the Bohlsen Restaurant Group, which owns such restaurants as Monsoon in Babylon and Verace in Islip, said no decision has been made about what to develop on the property, but she did not respond by deadline to detailed questions about the pending land deal.

Bergin Weichbrodt also drew a distinction between land use and zoning changes, saying that if the developer wants to rezone the land, "he would have to go through all of the proper channels like any other applicant in this town. Nobody wants a car dealership. It just doesn't fit into the community. We'd like to see something nicer there."

Islip Planning Department commissioner Dave Genaway, who also sits on the planning board, said the panel would not be influenced to approve the proposal solely because of the town's precarious financial situation. "If people are bringing up valid concerns, we're not going to rubber stamp this," he said. "We're going to give everything its due research."

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