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Opposition greets plan to rezone dozens of acres near Brookhaven landfill

Brookhaven officials want to rezone the town-owned parcel,

Brookhaven officials want to rezone the town-owned parcel, seen here on Saturday at left, at Horseblock Road and Sunrise Highway in Brookhaven hamlet, but neighbors and environmental advocates say the area doesn't need any more industrial development. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

A proposal to rezone more than 130 acres of land near the Brookhaven Town landfill is facing opposition from neighbors and environmental advocates who say the area doesn’t need any more industrial development.

Brookhaven officials want to rezone the town-owned parcel, at Horseblock Road and Sunrise Highway in Brookhaven hamlet, for industrial uses such as a corporate park, with restrictions to limit development. The land currently has residential zoning that under normal circumstances — if the property were not part of the landfill site — would allow for dozens of housing units, town officials said.

They said the town no longer needs the property after Supervisor Edward P. Romaine announced in March that the town had scrapped plans to build an ashfill there. The property has been used by the town for composting and other waste management purposes.

Brookhaven officials said they have no prospective buyers for the site. They did not say when they plan to vote on the rezoning plan.

More than a dozen residents speaking Thursday during a public hearing at Brookhaven Town Hall said the land should keep its residential zoning. Some also complained they struggled to obtain information about the rezoning plan.

"Who has asked for warehouses in this area? No one has asked for it," said Abena Asare, a hamlet resident. "What people want is a clean environment for their children and for the future. This community has been through too much. ... This community needs to breathe and to heal from this toxicity."

Debra Shiminski, who also lives in the hamlet, said she was tired of odors and noises she blamed on the landfill, which is slated to close in December 2024.

"I have lived with this my entire life, not only the smell, the noise, the trucks running down the block," she said. "You all should be ashamed for suggesting this."

The meeting was the town board’s first public gathering in more than a year.

Town Planning Commissioner Beth Reilly recited a long list of business categories that would be prohibited at the site, including taverns, concrete and asphalt manufacturing, demolition, gas manufacturing and storage, adult stores, recreation halls, recycling facilities, agriculture, laundromats, schools and day care centers, explosives manufacturing, fertilizer and glue factories, junk yards and scrap metal processors.

Part of the property would be preserved as open space, Reilly said.

Romaine in March had cited cost estimates that had ballooned from $32.25 million to more than $178 million when he announced the town would not build an ashfill at the site. Some environmental and community groups also had questioned the ashfill plan.

Romaine said Thursday that the property’s current zoning is inappropriate because of its proximity to the landfill.

"I don’t think anyone should live there," he said. "I don’t think that should be residential at all."

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