Suffolk rejects proposal to connect Heartland development to sewer district

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WOODBURY -

Suffolk County has rejected a crucial part of the Heartland Town Square project, one of the biggest development projects in Long Island history.

The agreement between the county and the Heartland Town Square project for a sewer hookup at the proposed former Pilgrim State psychiatric property in Brentwood was voted down with a 4-3 vote by a committee of the Suffolk Legislature.

Some civic leaders and residents say the vote was a small victory.

The agreement would have allowed developer Jerry Wolkoff to connect the planned 9,000-unit development to the Southwest sewer district.

Some residents and lawmakers questioned why the development didn't have to have its own sewage treatment plant.

A representative for the firm that put together the project's environmental impact statement says the sewer district can handle it.

"The Suffolk County Water Authority already has given us an availability letter and reaffirmed it last year and finally we have conceptual and final approval from the sewer agency," says Terri Elkowitz, of VHP Engineering.

The developer says over the last 12 1/2 years, he has done every study that is necessary for this development. He calls the comments and questions Monday mind-boggling.

"We worked with the Suffolk County DPW, the Suffolk County Health Department. We have twice gone to the Suffolk County sewer agency for approval," said Wolkoff.

Wolkoff called the vote a disappointment for young people and empty nesters. While Wolkoff has not commented whether he would build a separate treatment plant, he did tell News 12 after Monday's vote, "This much-needed project will not be deterred and we will continue to evaluate all options going forward."

The developer claims the opinions of the committee are not supported by fact or the county's own record. Last year, the Town of Islip approved just the first phase of the project, which includes roughly 3,500 hundred apartments.

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