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Suffolk lawmakers delay vote on Yaphank project

Suffolk lawmakers have delayed a vote to conduct an environmental impact study of land in Yaphank that would be sold to build the Legacy Village project, putting off for at least a month progress on the proposed $400-million venture.

Lawmakers agreed to table the $411,000 study after it became clear there were not sufficient votes to approve the measure during Tuesday night's session.

The study is required before any action can be taken on the development, which would bring more than 1,000 units of housing and a 6,500-seat sports arena to 255 acres the county now owns. It has support from local businesses and labor unions but faces opposition from neighborhood associations, the school district and civic groups.

Presiding Officer William Lindsay (D-Holbrook) said lawmakers seeking to postpone the study are merely trying to kill the project. He warned that killing it would blow a $13-million hole in the county's budget.

"I think it's a backdoor way to try to destroy the project," he said of the move to delay a vote. "I think if you don't want to go forward with the project, that vote should be taken when it's time to vote on the project. It shouldn't be done on an environmental motion."

But Legis. Vivian Viloria-Fisher (D-East Setauket) argued too many questions remain about the scope of the impact statement. She said the county may be able to complete the study in-house, though County Executive Steve Levy's chief deputy county executive, Chris Kent, told lawmakers an independent study is necessary.

Levy, who initiated the development proposal, blasted legislators as "do-nothing" and warned the delay could result in a tax increase later. "We face a serious deficit and thus far the legislature has punted on every item I have proposed to close the gap," Levy said. "These do-nothing legislators are setting up to impose a massive tax increase if they don't move to close the hole."


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