Construction on the massive Ronkonkoma Hub housing and retail complex could start this fall after Islandia officials last week approved a plan to allow a sewage pipe for the project to be built through the village.
The village board on Tuesday approved an intermunicipal agreement with Suffolk County and a separate agreement with the project’s developer, East Setauket-based Tritec Real Estate, to permit construction of the pipe beneath Johnson Avenue in the village.
Lawsuits filed by the village against Suffolk and the state Department of Environmental Conservation had virtually blocked construction of the $538 million development for more than a year. Village officials said those suits would be dropped.
The legal disputes had delayed construction because Brookhaven Town would not issue building permits until county health officials approved a wastewater-treatment plan for the Hub.
“It’s a very big deal for the overall project,” Tritec chief operating officer Robert Loscalzo said of the sewer pipe approval. He added that multiple meetings with village and county officials helped to allay their concerns about the sewer plan.
Local officials have said they expect the Hub to transform a struggling commercial district surrounding the Long Island Rail Road’s Ronkonkoma station, create hundreds of jobs and provide affordable housing for seniors and young people.
When construction is completed in about a decade, the Hub is expected to have up to 1,450 apartments and 545,000 square feet of retail and office space on about 50 acres.
Suffolk County spokesman Scott Martella said the sewer agreement will help jump-start Hub construction.
“We are making progress in our conversations with municipal partners,” he said. “Our local leaders recognize that the Ronkonkoma Hub is a regionally significant project that will have a positive economic impact on all neighboring communities.”
Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said the plan is “a huge step forward.”
“Without a wastewater solution . . . this project cannot go forward,” he said.
As part of the agreement with Islandia, Suffolk will give the village the right to use the sewer pipe for up to 200,000 gallons of wastewater per day, Mayor Allan M. Dorman said. Suffolk also agreed to rebuild roads torn up during sewer pipe installation to village specifications — saving the village $1.3 million, Dorman said.
He said Tritec agreed to pay the village $1 million.
Relations between Tritec and village officials got off to a rocky start early last year when county officials proposed building the pipe through Islandia to the Southwest Sewer District. Dorman said last week that he had threatened to sue Tritec over the dispute, but changed his mind after viewing the company’s plans.
“I’m still not a believer that the whole project should exist, but they seem to know what they’re doing,” Dorman said.
The Hub has received support from Long Island’s business and civic leaders.
“We originally weren’t very happy with the original plans,” Ronkonkoma Civic Association president Bruce Edwards said, adding meetings with Tritec officials eased his concerns. “They’re trying to be good neighbors.”