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Special vote OKd on Mastic Beach incorporation

Mastic Beach residents should be allowed to vote on whether the 11,500-resident hamlet will become an incorporated village, Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko ruled Wednesday.

Lesko's decision means a special election on the subject of incorporation could be held as soon as early next month. However, opponents of incorporation could delay or prevent that vote with a legal challenge.

Bob DeBona, president of the Mastic Beach Property Owners Association, said members of his group will meet Thursday to determine if they will file a challenge. Members of the property owners' association, including DeBona, oppose the new village, and DeBona said a challenge is likely.

Members of a citizen activist group, the Mastic Beach Village Exploratory Committee, submitted a petition for incorporation in January. The petition includes signatures from more than the required 20 percent of the community's voters, committee members said.

"I'm disappointed that [Lesko] would approve" the petitions, DeBona said. He added "the facts and figures aren't there" to support incorporating a village, which he said would add more taxes.

Incorporation advocates say a village would provide more local control of code enforcement, housing issues and quality-of-life concerns.

Lesko's decision comes on the heels of a Feb. 22 public hearing in which members of the property owners' association spoke out against the petition. One resident claimed that petitioners "gerrymandered" the proposed village boundaries to include part of Shirley.

But Lesko said in a statement Wednesday that the petitions "were legally sufficient." It said "those objecting to the petition have merely raised allegations of insufficiency, have proffered no evidence to establish their claims . . . and therefore have failed in their burden of proof."

Pro-village advocate Paul Breschard, chairman of the Mastic Beach Village Exploratory Committee, has said the village would "be a local government focusing just on our problems." He has said the new village would not cause a tax increase for residents.

The vote on incorporation must be held 30 to 70 days after Lesko's decision or within 40 days of the "filing of a final order sustaining the petition" after a challenge, according to state law.

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