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7-Eleven proposed at abandoned mini-golf course in Ronkonkoma

The Village Green miniature golf course in Ronkonkoma

The Village Green miniature golf course in Ronkonkoma closed in 2012. Credit: Barry Sloan

The former site of Village Green miniature golf in Ronkonkoma could become home to Slurpees instead of windmills and clock towers, but a civic group has mounted a campaign to block the project.

The Brookhaven Town Board is considering a zoning change and special permits that would allow construction of a 2,995-square-foot 7-Eleven store and gas station on a 1.83-acre site at 974 Portion Rd. Representatives of the franchise owner, identified in town documents as VGNK Associates of Coram, say the plan is to close an existing 7-Eleven nearby when the new one opens, adding that the current store would be put up for sale.

State Assemb. Keith P. Brown (R-Northport), a Melville attorney representing VGNK Associates, said at a Dec. 3 Brookhaven Town Board public hearing that the current store does not have adequate parking. He said the new store would be at a "far superior site," with room for more parking. Brown did not return a call seeking comment.

The $1 million store would create 20 construction jobs and five permanent jobs, according to an application filed for the project.

But leaders of the Lake Ronkonkoma Civic Association said the project doesn’t fit with a land use plan crafted in 2009 and adopted by Brookhaven officials that sought to bar haphazard development on Portion Road. They say the property, zoned for commercial recreation uses, is supposed to be reserved for those uses or be transitioned to residential zoning.

"The town has presented no evidence that supports modifying the land use plan, other than the desire to accommodate the property owner's intent to develop the property as [a] gas station and convenience store," the civic group wrote in a Dec. 28 letter to town officials.

Approval of the plan, the letter said, "would mean the town is returning the community to the past where decisions were made [in] an arbitrary and capricious manner without consideration of the future, and without regard to a land use plan."

Village Green, known for its "Wizard of Oz"-themed holes, closed in 2012, records show.

Brookhaven Councilman Neil Foley said the civic group's points about the land use plan are well taken, but he said the property has been vacant for years and no other potential buyer has expressed interest in it.

"Instead of having a blighted property, the mindset is to bring in a business that will create jobs and help to beautify the area," said Foley, who represents the area on the town board. "I respect land use plans. It‘s just, sometimes you have to make tough decisions, and I personally feel that this is a business that will do well there and help out the area."

Foley said town officials are completing an environmental review of the plan and there is no date for a town board vote.

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