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Town files Heartland development plan objection with county

Artist's rendering of the public area with tower

Artist's rendering of the public area with tower at the proposed Heartland Town Square development for the former Pilgrim State Psychatric Center property in Brentwood.  Credit: Heartland

The Town of Huntington filed an official objection with Suffolk County over the Heartland Town Square development in Brentwood Thursday, citing concerns about the potential impact on Commack Road and the Sagtikos Parkway as well as other traffic issues.

The objection was filed with the Suffolk County Planning Department. The Suffolk County Planning Commission now will set a public hearing by the end of September to address the issues that Huntington Supervisor Frank T. Petrone set forth in his letter, according to commission Chairwoman Jennifer Casey.

“A proposal as transformational as Heartland demands planning that considers the effects not only within the borders of an individual town, but on the surrounding communities as well,” Petrone wrote in the letter, in which he outlined concerns about traffic mitigation for Commack Road and other local roads.

Heartland is the brainchild of developer Jerry Wolkoff, who bought the former Pilgrim State Psychiatric Center site in Brentwood from the state in 2002 for $20 million with the intent to transform it into a massive mixed-use development.

In February, the Suffolk County Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend that the Islip Town board grant Wolkoff’s application to change the zoning for the site from residential to a newly established Pilgrim State Planned Redevelopment District.

The Islip Town board voted unanimously in July to approve both the zoning changes and the first phase of Wolkoff’s plan.

The first phase will be built on a 113-acre portion of the site with the height of buildings limited to 10 floors — five stories higher than what the town’s planning board recommended — and will include 3,504 apartments, 560,000 square feet of retail space and 626,000 square feet of class-A office space.

The Heartland development lies wholly within the Islip borders, but the three surrounding towns — Huntington, Babylon and Smithtown — had 20 days after Islip submitted its decision to the county to raise objections to the rezoning. Only Huntington submitted an objection by Thursday’s deadline.

Huntington’s objection may drive some changes to the traffic plans for Heartland, but the overall plan is not going to be blocked as a result Casey said.

“I don’t think it could be revoked. There could be modifications though,” Casey said. “The job of the planning commission is not to block this project.”

A.J. Carter, a spokesman for Petrone, declined to comment further, saying the letter spoke for itself.

Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter’s chief of staff, Tracey Krut, declined to comment on Petrone’s letter in an email Thursday because the town had not yet officially received a copy of the letter.

Wolkoff said Petrone’s concerns already have been addressed in other meetings and hearings.

“Tell me what substance that he put in here that wasn’t asked before the last commission,” Wolkoff said. “There isn’t one thing in this letter that hasn’t been answered.”

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