NEWSDAYOpponents of a long-stalled luxury shopping mall in Syosset want everyone to know they're far from an anti-development cliche.

"Our organization is not a 'NIMBY' group," said Todd Fabricant, who leads a coalition of residents and businesses against a proposed mall on the old Cerro Wire & Cable property. "We actually have a plan."

A smaller, mixed-use alternative was a topic of Thursday's Nassau County Planning Commission meeting - the final public hearing before the board issues a new master plan. More work is in store before a final plan is approved.

Fabricant's Cerro Wire Coalition wants mention in the plan of its own 2007 proposal: a Marriott hotel and 500 units of senior and affordable housing with a reduced retail component.

As one of Nassau's last large development-ready open spaces, the 39-acre Robbins Lane plot is being eyed for inclusion in the master plan. But commission chairman Jeffrey Greenfield made clear it wasn't his place to suggest one use over another.

The Town of Oyster Bay rejected the mall on environmental impact grounds a decade ago, and after years of back-and-forth legal rulings, a state appeals court upheld the decision in 2009.

"The site is significant enough for the future of Nassau County to be discussed," Greenfield said. "We don't give out endorsements here."

The debate stemmed from the county's previous master plan public hearing in November. There, a lawyer for Taubman Centers Inc., which has tried to develop the Cerro Wire land for 15 years, addressed commissioners on the site's importance.

That caused the opposing Cerro Wire Coalition (also known as “No Mall Here”) to renew its fight.  They launched Facebook and Twitter accounts and mailed residents warning postcards.

Their plan “makes a lot more sense than another shopping mall with devastating traffic impacts,” said Howard Avrutine, an attorney representing several civic organizations.

It remains unclear if or when Taubman will resubmit an application to Oyster Bay.  A company spokesman did not comment.

Taubman previously said the mall would be a significant economic engine for the region.  But Martin Cantor, director of Dowling College’s Long Island Economic and Social Policy Institute, said housing for young professionals would have a more lasting impact than retail jobs.

“That will retain permanent workers,” he said.

Published: February 3, 2011, By Paul Larocco,

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