Brookhaven Town's 92-page proposed North Bellport land use plan, designed to improve the community by creating a downtown business district, continues to draw support and opposition from some residents.
About 100 people came to the town board's Thursday night meeting to express their views on the plan, which would create shops and stores near Montauk Highway and Station Road.
The town board, which accepted the plan June 24, is accepting written comments from the public until Aug. 11, after which it will be placed on the decision calendar with a vote coming at a later date, town officials said. Residents have said they hope creating a downtown will revitalize the struggling hamlet.
Some residents also want any final plan to include housing for young adults and retirees on 13 acres just south of the Long Island Rail Road's Bellport station. While the housing was originally included, it was later removed from the plan.
Some residents continue to support a housing component in the plan.
"It would be a mistake to move forward with the land use plan without the consideration of creating a beautiful new mixed-use walkable development that in turn will create more housing options, expand business development, and encourage the use of public transportation," said Amy Engel, executive director of Sustainable Long Island, a nonprofit promoting economic development balanced with environmental health.
Not everyone who spoke before the town board shared that view.
"I believe that building a three- or four-story multifamily affordable building that will consist of a yet-to-be determined number of rental apartments will cause far more problems than it will solve," former Assemb. Dean Murray, a Republican who lost a re-election bid in 2012, said at the public hearing. Last February he announced he would run again for the seat.
"Aside from the traffic issues . . . this will also increase the number of children being brought into the school district without bringing a substantial increase to the tax base," he said.
Many in North Bellport and nearby Bellport Village are split on the housing question, as Brookhaven Town has identified more than 100 vacant or abandoned homes in the same area.
Lifelong Bellport Village resident Alison Neumann, who wants the vacant homes refurbished and occupied, fears new housing would decrease already dwindling property values for homeowners.
"Many homes are going down in value," she said. "You need to utilize what we already have."
During the meeting, North Bellport resident Waveney Klaiber, who supports additional housing, told the board that Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine promised residents the new housing months ago.
Romaine -- who at the meeting said he will consider the housing, but said he "has his concerns" -- refuted that claim.
In March, Romaine spoke with 27 North Bellport residents at an advisory committee meeting at which the majority said they favored new housing behind the train station.
"We ask that the town honors its commitment to the residents. It will improve where we live," Klaiber said.