Brookhaven Town Board passed a vote in favor of the Mt. Sinai Village Center, effectively green-lighting the project.
The town voted 6-1, the lone dissenting vote belonging to Councilwoman Jane Bonner, in favor of the zoning change to J Business 2 District on the 30-acre property east of the King Kullen shopping center on the south side of Route 25A in Mount Sinai.
The plan includes about 40 retailers on the property, a clock tower, ornamental landscaping, bike lanes, covered farmers market and a walking trail around the property. A war memorial is also planned, but it is not yet known if it will be on site or placed elsewhere.
There were some restrictions placed on the project. No building can exceed 75,000 square feet, a minimum of 25 percent of the land will remain naturally vegetated, and a 1,200 square foot community building has been axed.
As part of the approval, developer Soundview Realty will be spending $810,000 toward the Mt. Sinai Community Improvement Fund. Projects that the money will be earmarked toward include $310,000 for an amphitheater/skating rink at Heritage Park, $200,000 for improvements to Cedar Beach Park, $200,000 to the Mount Sinai Marine Stewardship Center, and $100,000 to Route 25A improvements.
Paul Elliot, the president of Soundview Realty Group, believes that this project will be a huge benefit for Mount Sinai.
“There’s not a center of town right now,” Elliot said. “We’re going to really make this the village shopping area. There’s going to be a farmer’s market in there. It’s going to give it a little sense of community.”
Elliot also said that the village center will have a “walkable” feel to it and that he expects to break ground by the end of 2012.
Councilwoman Bonner, on the other hand, is firmly against the development.
“We will in effect be creating blight in the small community of Mt. Sinai,” Bonner said. She also claimed that rough calculations showed that the plan will save Mt. Sinai taxpayers $60 per household.
“So for $60 the character of your community will be forever changed and you will be sitting in traffic jams day in and day out,” Bonner said. She did mention she was happy to add some concessions to the project, including an increased buffer area and protecting the natural vegetation.
Supervisor Mark Lesko believes that the project is a good use of the property.
“It’s zoned industrial,” he said. “That property, if you just leave it as is, is going to end up being potentially a compost facility or an industrial facility, and I don’t think that’s something Mt. Sinai residents want at that location. I’m also convinced that the project does represent the sentiment of the community.
Elliot also refutes Bonner’s claim of the project creating blight.
“We have vision," he said. "That’s what we do as a profession. It’s very difficult for a civic leader to really understand what happens next. I can vision this thing. It’s already built [in my mind]. We’re going to prove it to be a beautiful place.“
Click here to watch public comment and discussion leading up to the vote via MSWeekly.com.