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Planning board delays vote on land limits

After neighbors of a town-owned plot in East Islip that could be developed into an office building spoke against a proposed relaxation of land use restrictions on the 2.3-acre site, the Islip Planning Board voted to delay making a recommendation on the controversial plan.

The Islip Town Board, which unanimously voted last month to sell the property to a prominent restaurant developer for $3.2 million, asked the planning board to eliminate deed covenants and restrictions limiting the property to a used-car lot and automobile showroom. The lifting of restrictions is contingent on the sale being finalized, town officials said, as the owners of the Bohlsen Restaurant Group plan to develop the parcel into a medical office building.

Shawn Linz, who lives next to the property, said during a public comment portion of last week's Planning Board meeting that changes to the restrictions would be "an insult to the local community."

Linz said changes to the property, which operates as a light-vehicle repair and maintenance shop for Islip's Department of Public Works at 100 Carleton Ave., "would have a substantial impact on our property,"including traffic, parking and noise.

Dave Genaway, commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development and a Planning Board member, recommended the board reserve judgment on the proposal in light of concerns from residents. He stressed that any planning board action would be a "first step in a multi-prong process," which would include public hearings and a vote by the Islip Town Board.

"These covenants are a cloud on the title, which the perspective purchaser has asked to be removed," said Genaway.

Suzee Foster, a spokeswoman for the Bohlsen Restaurant Group, said yesterday that the owners have "not decided" the future of the property. She added, "They will do what's in the best interest of the property."

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