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Long IslandSuffolk

Bellone signs legislation adopting master plan for Suffolk

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, center, shakes hands

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, center, shakes hands with Legis. Kara Hahn, right, after signing the county's new master plan in Hauppauge, Aug. 12, 2015. Looking on are Planning Commissioner David Calone, second left, and Suffolk County legislators Tom Muratore and Al Krupski. Lee Koppelman sits at left. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone Wednesday signed legislation that adopts the county's first comprehensive master plan in 44 years, setting county goals in areas including the environment, housing and transportation.

The 59-page document lists more than 100 objectives for the county through 2035. They include promoting multifamily developments near transportation hubs, protecting ground and surface water, and expanding bus and train options.

"The purpose is to create a strategic plan for our county by determining where we are as a region and where we want to be," said David Calone, chairman of the Suffolk County Planning Commission, who began working on the new master plan in 2010.

"This plan provides a framework for all of us in government," Bellone said at the H. Lee Dennison building in Hauppauge.

The document is nonbinding and incorporates some initiatives already underway, such as the rapid bus service plan on major north-south arteries such as Nicolls Road, and increases in sewer coverage to improve water quality.

The 1971 plan called for preserving open space and protecting farmland, as well as clustering higher density development and job centers near mass transit and established downtowns.

The bill adopting the new master plan was passed by the county legislature unanimously last month, and was approved unanimously by the Suffolk County Planning Commission.

James O'Connor, a Republican who is challenging Bellone for county executive, noted the bill signing comes three months before Election Day and said it was based on work done by the administration of County Executive Steve Levy, a Republican.

"His idea of economic development is to spend taxpayer money on bike lanes on Nicolls Road," O'Connor said in a statement.

An initial portion of the plan was released in 2011, before Levy left office, but was never passed by the legislature.

Lee Koppelman, Suffolk's first planning director who authored the county's first comprehensive plan in 1970, said most of the recommendations in the original were followed.

"One area of failure was a balance of housing inventory," said Koppelman, who is now a professor at Stony Brook University. "There's no affordable housing for our young people. It could never get over the local opposition."

Legis. Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore) said he was skeptical about Bellone's idea for rapid transit bus service. He doubts there is demand for such a service on car-centric Long Island.

"That being said, ultimately the goals set forth in the plan are goals that I share," Cilmi said.

Sarah Lansdale, county planning director, said the master plan could help Suffolk get federal and state grants.

Suffolk master plan

Goals of Suffolk County's new master plan, signed Wednesday by County Executive Steve Bellone, include:

SUPPORTLong Island Rail Road improvements, including the "Double Track" project to add service on the Ronkonkoma branch, and electrification of rail lines to Riverhead, Port Jefferson and Patchogue

PROMOTEaffordable multifamily housing through expedited permitting processes.

USEthe Suffolk County land bank to acquire and redevelop foreclosed and "zombie" properties.

DEVELOPa regional tourism marketing strategy.

EXPANDadvanced wastewater infrastructure, including sewers, to existing communities.

Source: Suffolk County Comprehensive Master Plan 2035

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