Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko withdrew a
proposal -- heralded as historic by backers --
designed to preserve the Carmans River, citing a
lack of consensus on the town board. The
plan was designed to steer new development away
from the 10-mile river. But many residents
bashed the plan as a giveaway to developers, and
it became clear that the plan did not have the
support of the town board.
"All I was trying to do was save a river," Lesko
said during a town meeting Thursday night in
Lesko's decision to withdraw was met with a
round of applause from the crowd of about 200.
The decision came after a 2 1/2-hour public
comment period in which many residents chided
the plan. "Throw it away and walk away
from the table," said Peter Oleschuk of Rocky
Other residents were disappointed.
"Protect our waterway so it doesn't become like
the Forge," said Shineye Wright of Mastic Beach,
referencing a polluted river elsewhere in town.
Council members Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld, Daniel
Panico and Connie Kepert, who opposed Lesko's
plan, proposed an alternative measure that
promised "significant public input" before the
creation of revised plan. The town board
had not voted on the measure by press time.
"This plan is failing because it was forged
behind closed doors," Kepert said, referring to
the original plan.
The Carmans River plan factionalized
Brookhaven's town board and drew heavy criticism
from civic groups and the public. But Lesko and
a group of environmentalists and developers who
crafted the plan touted the proposal as a chance
to protect the river from succumbing to
pollution. The Carmans proposal promised
to allow developers to build with greater
density than current zoning laws allow outside
of the river's watershed. The plan,
through the use of so-called "development
credits," would have kept the river clean by
steering growth to other parts of town,
Dozens of residents spoke against the plan at a
March 6 board meeting, as well, citing fears
that it would overburden school districts and
cause overdevelopment away from the river. Town
board members Kepert and Fiore-Rosenfeld, who,
like Lesko, are Democrats, spoke against the
plan at that meeting, as well. Councilman Panico,
a Republican, also criticized the plan that day.
Richard Amper, executive director of the Long
Island Pine Barrens Society and one of the
plan's architects, has called the proposal "a
marriage of preservation and development."