Officials can expect a large turnout of residents and business owners Thursday at the Town of Brookhaven’s public hearing on the final $475 million plan to remake 50 acres around the Ronkonkoma Long Island Rail Road station.
East Setauket-based Tritec, which the town named master developer for the mega-project, wants to build a walkable, transit-oriented development with as many as 1,450 residences surrounded by office space, retail shops, restaurants and entertainment venues.
Tritec executives say they are making progress in their negotiations to buy the land needed for the project, acquiring four parcels totaling about 12 acres so far. But some of the area’s business and property owners are skeptical of the proposal, and a few have been resistant to Tritec’s overtures to acquire their land.
According to its agreement with the town, Tritec must buy at least 25 percent of the property needed for the project before it can ask Brookhaven to take land via eminent domain, a possible costly and lengthy operation neither the town nor the developer has said they would be anxious to undertake.
But since condemnation is still on the table, some local property owners have their hackles raised. Local residents that have concerns over the scope of the plan have vowed to show up in strength at the hearing slated for 5 p.m. at Town Hall in Farmingville.
Ronkonkoma resident Larry Farrell, who heads a group of residents opposing the project’s size, said that Tritec hasn’t accounted for the increased demand for police, fire and other services that will come with the increase in density, a burden, he says, that will likely fall on taxpayers.
“If it’s a size 9 foot, we want a size 9 shoe,” Farrell said. “We want the project to match the community’s needs. We’re already too congested.”
However, according to the environmental impact documents on the town’s website, once completed, Ronkonkoma project will generate between $3.5 million to $4 million in additional tax revenue annually. That’s enough, town officials say, to more than cover increased expenses for services.
Tritec’s Ronkonkoma Hub redevelopment is also expected to create more than 10,000 construction jobs over its 10-year build out, as well as more than 5,000 permanent jobs, according to Suffolk County officials.
In June 2012, the county Legislature approved $21 million in funding for the creation of a sewer district to serve the new development. The design phase of the new sewer system is already underway.
The Ronkonkoma Hub project itself is being financed by the Olayan Group, a Saudi Arabian investment conglomerate that owns Middle East franchise and distribution rights for companies such as Coca-Cola, Burger King and Colgate Palmolive. Olayan also has substantial stakes in JPMorgan Chase and National Grid, according to its website.
The town has scheduled a Town Hall press briefing with Tritec executives for an hour before the public hearing starts.