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Greenport hearing on Plum Island sale plan

The federal government has scheduled a public hearing in Greenport next month to discuss its plan to sell Plum Island after its animal disease laboratory closes.

The General Services Administration hearing will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 18 in Greenport High School.

The government plans to sell the island off the North Fork to the highest bidder after the Department of Homeland Security opens a $1.14 billion laboratory in Manhattan, Kan., to replace the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, which employs about 200 people.

In a draft environmental impact statement on the proposed sale released this summer, both agencies recommended selling the 840-acre island, but no minimum price has been set.

High-density development of as many as 750 homes was one option outlined in the impact statement for the facility where research into contagious animal diseases is conducted under high security. The report also looked at the potential effects of mothballing the facility off Orient Point, continuing to operate it, selling it for low-density development, or turning it into protected open space.

That last option has been supported by most Long Island government and environmental leaders if the lab is closed.

The report assumes that the new facility in Kansas will open by 2019, and that all of the research on Plum Island will cease by 2021.

Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) and other public officials have opposed closing the lab and selling the island.

Bishop, whose representative will speak at the hearing, said in a statement, "Discussion of the sale of Plum Island is premature given the uncertainty surrounding the scope and cost" of the proposed lab in Kansas.

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