The Brookhaven Town Board has rezoned hundreds of properties as part of the latest phase of a plan to protect the Carmans River watershed from overdevelopment.
More than 500 parcels on 670 acres in Yaphank and Brookhaven hamlet were changed from 1-acre to 2-acre zoning in nine separate unanimous votes during a board meeting on Wednesday night.
The zoning changes affect the future uses of those properties, some of which are occupied by single-family homes, town officials said.
The town's Carmans River Conservation and Management Plan, adopted last year by the town board, recommended zoning changes as one of several strategies to prevent nitrogen caused by sewage from harming the watershed.
During a public hearing Wednesday, Long Island Pine Barrens Society executive director Richard Amper said the zoning amendments would help protect the 10-mile-long river.
"I think it's sort of a fulfillment of what we need to do," said Amper, the only speaker at the hearing. "This has been done thoughtfully and it's science-based."
The town plans to hold additional public hearings on Sept. 24 and Nov. 25 on rezoning proposals related to the Carmans River plan.
The river is home to more than 100 species of birds and fish and is fresh for most of its run before it flows into saltwater estuaries at its southern end. Its headwaters are in Middle Island and it flows south through Yaphank and under the Long Island Expressway before it opens up and passes through the pine barrens.
It is named for Samuel Carman, who operated mills on the river in the 19th century.