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Officials grant zone change on controversial East Islip site

Islip Town Hall in an undated photo.

Islip Town Hall in an undated photo. Credit: Erin Geismar

Islip officials have unanimously voted to grant a change of zone on a former town auto repair garage in East Islip, from part residential and business to business.

The change of zoning application for 100 Carleton Ave. drew opposition from East Islip residents angry that developer Bohlsen Restaurant Group has not outlined its plans for the site.

"What's the big secret? What are you putting on the property?" asked resident Mike Rooney. Some residents also asked why plans were not filed with the town as per procedure.

BRG lawyer Vincent Messina said at Thursday's zoning hearing that no firm plans exist. BRG co-owner Kurt Bohlsen said in an email the company wants to finish its assessment and complete the purchase before deciding what to build.

Resident Shawn Linz, who lives adjacent to the site, told the board the garage's chemicals present environmental issues.

After the vote, Linz said in an email, "I'm disappointed that our elected officials at Islip Town Hall would take actions that benefit the interest of a wealthy, politically connected, restaurateur and developer, and not take actions to protect the Islip community."

Bohlsen said in the email, "What we will do is to develop the property for its best use. It will be better for the neighborhood than what is there now."

The board voted in 2012 to sell the site to BRG for $3.2 million, a controversial move because of questions over how Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt handled the pending sale. Bohlsen's father, John, is her neighbor and campaign contributor. The town ethics board cleared her of any impropriety with the sale, though another complaint about the sale remains.

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