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Suffolk Planning Commission Gives Green Light To Massive Islip Housing Development

ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The Suffolk County Planning Commission on Wednesday approved the largest housing development ever proposed for Long Island.

As TV 10/55 Long Island Bureau Chief Richard Rose reported, the development features thousands of apartments and retail space. But there is still significant opposition.

The planning commission debated for hours over the Heartland Town Square Project. Developer David Wolkoff is used to that – his family first proposed the massive development for the Town of Islip 14 years ago.

"The major first phase will be 3,500 apartment units, 250,000 square feet of retail, 300,000 square feet of office," Wolkoff said.

Artist renderings show what Wolkoff hopes to build in three phases over the next 30 years. It includes a total of 9,000 apartments on the grounds of the former Pilgrim Psychiatric Center.

The Wolkoff family bought the property years ago and has already demolished all the abandoned buildings.

"This is the worst project ever proposed on Long Island in history," said Richard Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society.

Amper said the Heartland project will create waste and potential contamination on a site that has been designated a special groundwater protection site. The developer said there will be no issues though, because the project will be hooked up to an existing sewer line.

Project opponents also point to the many vehicles that will be added to the already-congested traffic on the main roads bordering the site.

That worries neighbor Mike Melillo, who works nearby.

"On Long Island Avenue, getting from Heartland to Deer Park Avenue, if there are trucks on the road, you can be there 15 to 20 minutes," he said.

The developers said they will set up shuttle service to nearby buses and trains for new residents.

"What we're trying to do is get people out of their cars, so we're going to provide Zipcars," Wolkoff said.

The Heartland project also needs final approval from the Islip Town Board, which is months away from considering it.

The Brentwood School District says if necessary, it will sue the developer for any expenses schools may incur.

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