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Topgolf proposal off LIE faces criticism from neighbors

Topgolf wants to build its first New York

Topgolf wants to build its first New York location in Holtsville.  Credit: Topgolf/Michael Baxter

A proposed golf and restaurant project in Holtsville would disrupt a residential neighborhood with loud music, bright lights and traffic, residents told the Brookhaven Town planning board.

Officials from Dallas-based Topgolf, a national chain that wants to build its first New York facility off the Long Island Expressway North Service Road, say they plan to control noise and lighting at the complex, but they faced skepticism from residents and board members during a public hearing at Brookhaven Town Hall on Monday.

Topgolf, which has dozens of locations around the country, is a combination of golf driving range and eatery in which customers can whack balls while dining and listening to live and recorded music. Golf balls have computer chips that show how close they land to designated targets.

Topgolf officials said the $25 million Holtsville facility, between Lakeside Drive and Morris Avenue west of Nicolls Road, would create up to 500 jobs. The planning board deferred a decision until its next meeting on Sept. 16.

Opponents of the project threw up their hands in apparent exasperation during the hearing as Topgolf officials tried to assure them that their lifestyles would not be disrupted by the business.

Mike Quilty described a recent vacation trip with his wife Mary during which they saw a Topgolf site with blaring music and bright lights.

"When we saw the Topgolf in South Carolina, I said, Oh, my God, it is in your face," Quilty said. "I said, wow, this is going to be in my neighborhood? I can't believe this."

Other residents expressed concern about Topgolf customers driving drunk as they leave the facility, which would be open until 2 a.m. on weekends.

"How are they going to stop people from drinking and then driving up the road?" Emilce Moyano said.

Residents also objected to a plan to install an exit on Morris Avenue near their homes. Topgolf officials said they expected most customers would instead use an entrance and exit on the North Service Road.

Tanner Micheli, Topgolf's director of real estate, said the company would work with residents to resolve their concerns.

"The perception of our music is it's much, much louder than it actually is," Micheli told the board. "We don't want to have one upset neighbor."

A Topgolf lawyer, J. Timothy Shea Jr. of Hauppauge, said music is "part of their business model," adding noise and lights generated by the facility would comply with town laws.

Board members questioned why the business needed to play music and suggested it should be shut off earlier in the evening.

"I don't understand the need for music at 2 o'clock in the morning," board member Patricia Kelly said.

Topgolf's proposal had previously received the backing of the Brookhaven Town Board, which voted 6-0 in December 2017 to grant the project a needed zoning change.

Councilman Kevin LaValle said he was confident Topgolf would allay residents' worries.

“Any new development, you’re certainly going to get people who come out and oppose it for various reasons," he said in an interview. “They’ll be able to build a complex that the community will be happy about.”

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