BROOKHAVEN - Dozens of environmental activists and residents got the opportunity to have their say on a controversial plan to preserve Carmans River during a public hearing tonight.

As News 12 Long Island has reported, the Town of Brookhaven is considering a preservation plan presented by a panel of 15 experts. It recommends expanding the current Pine Barrens Protection Act to include the 9,100 acres near the Carmans River, while at the same time allowing development in industrial areas just outside the protected land.

Johan McConnell, of the South Yaphank Civic Association, calls the plan a "win-win" for developers and environmentalists alike.

However, the proposed compromise with developers has Karen Blumer, of the Open Space Preservation Trust, concerned. She says in order for the land to become protected by the Pine Barrens Act, the plan would need approval from state lawmakers in Albany, where the development lobby is very strong.

Town Supervisor Mark Lesko stressed tonight that the public hearing is just the first step, and said he expects the plan to be revised several times before anything is adopted.

The process of adopting any preservation plan could take more than a year.