Artist rendering of the public area with tower at the...

Artist rendering of the public area with tower at the proposed Heartland Town Square in Brentwood. Credit: Heartland

The Islip Town Board has revived the massive and long-stalled $4 billion Heartland Town Square project with a routine vote to accept an environmental impact study on the development.

At a change of zone meeting Thursday, the board voted unanimously to accept the final generic environmental impact statement on the 450-acre Brentwood parcel, home to the former Pilgrim State Hospital.

Developer Gerald Wolkoff bought the land for $20 million from the state in 2002, with plans to build a new community, including 9,000 apartments and an entertainment district.

Wolkoff hailed the board's action. "It's about time," he said. "Sooner is better so we can create jobs."

The next step is for the town board to issue a so-called finding statement determining "if the project has put in enough mitigation measures from among all the reasonable alternatives," said John Ellsworth, the town's environmental consultant on the project. "If they get to a finding statement and do decide if the project is approvable, they still have to finalize the zoning process."

The project calls for the creation of a new zoning designation called the Pilgrim State Planned Redevelopment District, which would be mixed-use residential and commercial zoning. The Heartland Town Square project has been long delayed over use of union workers, tax assessments and traffic mitigation, including on the nearby Sagtikos Parkway.

In a separate meeting Wednesday, the Islip Planning Board also unanimously greenlighted the town's plan to build a compressed natural gas station in Ronkonkoma.

The Islip Resource Recovery Agency was seeking to install the station at an existing town waste energy facility on the corner of Veterans Highway and Lakeland Avenue. The agency, along with the Suffolk County Water Authority, received a $1 million New York State Energy Research and Development Authority grant to build the stations.

"The vision of this was to provide a green fueling source," said Eric Hofmeister, president of the agency as well as the town's acting supervisor. He said the town's 50 residential garbage trucks using compressed natural gas technology were safer and quieter for nearby residents.

"Those trucks already go to that location and will not create more traffic," he added of the proposed station.

Planning department staff member Sean Colgan said the site of the planned station "is optimally located for its primary users."

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