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Smithtown Animal Shelter

WANTED:  WARM LOVING HOMES !!!

 

Decker – Lab/Shep mix 10 years old male/neutered up to date on vaccines. Decker is a special needs dog

The Smithtown Animal Shelter has many adult cats and young kittens for adoption. Our kittens are socialized and handled by our

 

  The Smithtown Animal Shelter has many kittens for adoption, the little ones are handled and socialized by our volunteer staff they are friendly have their initial shots and de-worming.

 

          

 

 

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Monday
Aug182014

Smithtown's Got Gas - Town Board Approves Controversial Filling Station/ Convenience Store 

Is Smithtown to become the gas capital of Suffolk County? That’s a question Supervisor Vecchio is asking after the Town Board authorized yet another controversial gas station/ convenience store. This is the second facility of this type the board has approved at a questionable location within the last nine months. In December of 2013 the Town, by a three-two vote (McCarthy, Creighton and Malloy - yes and Vecchio and Wehrheim- no), approved the controversial Hess station/convenience store on the corner of Harned Rd. and Jericho Tpke. in Commack.

At the August 12th, 2014 Town Board meeting council members McCarthy, Wehrheim, Creighton and Nowick voted to move forward on the Bolla L.I. Operating Corp. proposal to build a 16-pump/convenience store on the corner of NYS Rtes. 111 and 347.  Supervisor Vecchio was the lone no vote. 

The proposed location is a derelict site that once housed a gas station and has been unoccupied for well over a decade.  In June of 2013 Bolla gained approvals from Smithtown to rezone an adjacent residential property (two-story house) to neighborhood business allowing Bolla the commercial space needed to build their station/store.  At the public hearing in June 2013, Planning Director Frank DeRubeis questioned Bolla’s traffic study and explained the safety concerns his department had with the application. 

DeRubeis asked the Town to do an independent traffic study.  He explained that the Bolla study did not cover the interruption of traffic flow and that the study basically addressed that there would be no additional traffic generated by the construction of the proposed filling station/ convenience store. 

Non-rush hour traffic at the proposed intersection“DeRubeis pointed out that the proposed access to the site, the  driveway location, for the filling station is not acceptable according to Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) standards. Reading out loud from “Driveway and Street Intersection Spacing” during the Board meeting on June 18, DeRubeis said, “A driveway or approach connection should not be placed within the length of an acceleration lane.” Therefore, according to DeRubeis, the proposed driveway at this intersection violates ITE standards and should not be considered. He also noted that Bolla Operating Corp. expected to receive 60-70% of its business from traffic already on the road. DeRubeis believed this would be problematic to the area during rush hour times. ” Taylor Fleming, Smithtown Matters 6/20/2013.

The call for an independent review was rejected. On February 25, 2014 the Board of Zoning Appeals approved Bolla’s zone change petiton. NYS DOT has limited driveway access to right turns only on both Rte. 111 and Rte. 347

The recent site plan approval removes all barriers for the project.  Attached to the approval were five conditions. The applicant must get the necessary permits from the Town Building Department, the NYS DOT, install orange mesh fencing before construction begins, the canopy lighting must be flush with canopy ceiling and fire suppression nozzles shall not extend more than 6 inches below the canopy ceiling. The structure’s rear elevation must match the building’s other three sides.  Two 16 s.f. signs (precast logo wall signs) subject to variance approval.  

According to NYS Department of Transportation, eighteen accidents involving one or two vehicles occurred within 200 feet of the intersection between 2009 and 2013.

(The article was amended Aug. 18 at 10:41pm)

 

 

Wednesday
Aug132014

Sonic Restaurant Is Coming To Nesconset

New design for the Nesconset Sonic RestaurantSonic restaurant is coming to Smithtown.  According to Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) attorney Paul Hennings the BZA reached a settlement with Sonic franchisee Cinos Smithtown, LLC and property owner Serota Smithtown, LLC on Tuesday, August 12th. The fast food restaurant will be constructed on the southeast corner of Middle Country Road and Alexander Avenue in Nesconset. 

Sonic’s application was denied by the BZA with a three - two vote in November of 2012. In December of 2012 the applicants filed an Article 78 (an article 78 proceeding is used to appeal the decision of a NYS or local agency to the NY courts)  proceeding against the town. In March of 2014 Judge Daniel Martin, in his decision in favor of the applicant, stated that the the town had improperly bowed to community pressure. The BZA filed an appeal and began to evaluate the likelihood of winning the appeal. Negotiations for a settlement began and on August 12th resulted in an acceptable resolution.

During the public hearing residents pointed out how increased noise and traffic would have a negative impact on their community and quality of life. Negotiations lead to modifications as well as the withdrawal of some requested variances. The style of the building was altered and there will not be any flags on the roof of the building.  The amount of signage has decreased and a substantial buffer will be planted along the southern property line as well as a second fence to muffle sounds and to block ambient light.

The town will permit the requested twenty-two speakers but no more than three speakers can be in use at one time at the drive in.

Traffic issues are being addressed by increased security, full access in and a right-turn-only exit from a curb cut on Alexander Avenue. 

The applicant, having received its special exception, may move forward and file a site plan. 

 

Saturday
Aug092014

What Happens Next? Holy Cross Lutheran Church

What happens next? That is the question many residents living near Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Commack are asking themselves.  For many living in the community around the church on Verbena Drive there is a sense of vulnerability, anger and betrayal. How, they wonder, could church leaders consider a proposal to turn the church into a facility to house as many as forty non-American children and how do church leaders not see the impact that would have on the entire community.  

The  unease stems from a canceled meeting scheduled for 7:30 pm Monday, August 4,2014. According to neighbors, most unaffiliated with the church, it was through Facebook and word of mouth that they learned of a scheduled meeting at the church to hear a proposal to use the facility as a temporary but ongoing shelter for unaccompanied children crossing the U.S. border illegally.   

Neighbors insist that any discussion should have included them.  “We should have been invited to hear the proposal and allowed to comment”, was the message from neighbors. 

Not so, says Ronald Hahn, president of the church council. According to Mr. Hahn the church is following the same process it has always followed.  Mr. Hahn in a phone conversation with SmithtownMatters.com said the scheduled meeting was for church council members only. The meeting was scheduled to permit Ronald Drews from Lutheran Social Services NYC (LSS) the opportunity to present his proposal to the council and for the council to ask questions. Mr. Hahn confirmed that the proposal was about providing temporary shelter to the homeless children who recently entered the U.S.. 

“There is a process we follow, the council hears a proposal and votes to either move it forward to the voting members of the congregation or to reject the proposal.  If it is moved forward to the congregation there is a second vote that takes place. A majority of the 40 voting members would have to approve the plan for it to move forward.” said Mr. Hahn.  If the proposal passed both votes, the plan would begin to be implemented. In the case of this proposal - permits, variances and possibly a change of use would be required, subject to the Town of Smithtown’s approvals and public hearings.  

Smithtown Planning Director Frank DeRubeis confirmed that he had been approached by someone with an interest in the proposal, and that he provided information about the process and issues from the planning department’s perspective. 

So where is the proposal now? According to Mr. Hahn there is no plan to reschedule a meeting to hear LSS’s proposal. It was clear from the behavior and rhetoric from the 100 or so residents who showed up for the meeting that there was a lot of hostility towards the proposal and very little support. Still, Mr. Hahn feels as though the process should have been allowed to play out.  “There was no reason to believe that the council or congregation would have supported the idea and the public would have had the opportunity to speak out in a public forum before the Town Board.” Ronald Hahn. 

Monday night’s meeting may have ended the discussion of LSS’s proposal, but it doesn’t end the dilemma the church is facing of a dwindling congregation and the economic hardship partially due to the loss of its tenant  Lilliput Nursery School. Things didn’t get better after Monday night’s meeting when it was discovered that one of the pews at the church was broken.  The $500 it will cost to fix the pew will be hard to find.   Mr. Hahn said he is hoping that Ms. Virga, who was vocal at the meeting speaking about the community working together, will help find a way to have the pew repaired. 

Reverend Walker and Ronald Drews were not available to comment for this article. 

Tuesday
Aug052014

Meeting Canceled Please Leave - Ronald Hahn Holy Cross Lutheran Church

Ronald Hahn addressing attendees at Aug. 4 meetingAmerica’s border crisis of unaccompanied children entering into the United States became an issue in Commack on Monday evening at the Holy Cross Lutheran Church. The small church, located on Verbena Drive in Commack, is facing declining enrollment and the loss of its tenant Lilliput Nursery School.  How to remain viable and thrive is a question the church council is trying to address.

On Monday evening at 7:30 pm the Holy Cross Church Council was prepared to listen to a proposal being made by Ronald Drews of Lutheran Social Services NYC (LSS).  LSS’s  proposal could possibly help the church in two ways, providing economic resources and allowing it to fulfill its mission of outreach. 

According to people associated with the church, LSS’s proposal was to allow the facility to be utilized as a temporary shelter for some of the unaccompanied children entering the country illegally from countries like El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico. More than 60,000 + unaccompanied children have arrived in the U.S. fleeing the ongoing violence prevalent in their homeland.

The meeting never happened and the proposal was not made.  Neighbors, mostly unaffiliated with the church, got wind of the agenda for the meeting  and came to hear the proposal and to express their dissatisfaction. The neighbors were critical of the church’s consideration of the proposal which would have an impact on their community without involving them in their discussions.  

Attendees at the canceled meetingThe meeting was scheduled to be a closed meeting for church members only.  Neighbors and residents learned about the meeting through word of mouth and on Facebook. They filled the church and, according to the council’s director Ronald Hahn, exceeded its capacity. As they waited for the meeting to begin their anger and frustration became palpable. Everyone wanted to know why a church would be conducting a meeting of such significance to their community without notifying them. The conclusion for many was that the church was trying to do this on the sneak, quietly, without calling attention to the fact that there could be as many as forty children temporarily housed at the site on an ongoing basis.  

Representing the church was Reverend Walker and Ronald Hahn. Mr. Hahn took the lead over the gathering announcing that there would be no meeting and asked people to leave.  Hahn repeatedly suggested that the 100 or so people in the room exceeded the buiding’s capacity and fire marshals would issue violations. He took some questions from the audience, but neither he nor the people in the pews were in a charitable mood. Questions became accusations with Mr. Hahn repeatedly suggesting there was no information to offer because the LSS’s proposal had not been made. Neighbors were not buying it.

Debbie Virga, Rev. Hill and unidentified attendeeCommunity liaison Debbie Virga  stood up and addressed the room focussing on the impact this proposal would have on a Commack community already making sacrifices (paying high taxes) to provide quality education. Virga spoke of the lengthy process the church would face.  “housing children at the school would require town permits and variances.” she said. Hahn chimed in that they were well aware of the process. His statement fed the furor of the spectators with many speculating that his statement was proof that the church’s commitment was further along and had been given more thought than the church was willing to admit. Later Virga spoke about the community (of which she is very passionate) and its willingness to work with the church to help find a viable solution to its financial problem. She suggested the Church consider the facility serve as a community center for Commack’s children. 

Residents speaking with Smithtown Matters were not willing to give their names for publication. They did reveal and were united in their anger at a church that appeared to be secretive and arrogant. Reverend Richard Hill, from Hope Lutheran Church in Selden, was in attendance to hear LSS’s proposal.   Rev. Hill, prior to the scheduled meeting, discussed with the attendees information he had on the proposal verifying that there was a forty child maximum. After the meeting the Reverend Hill said he was not surprised by the turnout nor the concerns of the neighbors. He spoke about the Lutheran Church and its long history in helping people and immigrants. Although he did not weigh in on whether or not the church was deliberately withholding information from the community, he did express his fear and regret that people might have left the meeting with a negative view of the Lutheran Church. 

Wednesday
Jul302014

Give It Back - Business Owner MJ Kim Wants Hess To Adhere To Covenants

(click on photos to enlarge)

“What sets America apart from the rest of the world is not voting or democracy, it is America’s support and commitment to the fundamental law of property rights” - MJ Kim owner of State Farm Insurance business located at 2102 Jericho Tpke., Commack.

MJ Kim - Outside his office Jericho Tpke. CommackMr. Kim has operated at the same location on Jericho Tpke. for twenty-two years. During those twenty-two years Mr. Kim shared a driveway  (curb cut allowing access) on state road 25 with the gas station on the corner of Harned and 25.  According to Mr. Kim the curb cut was similar to other curb cuts on the road with the first thirteen feet of property belonging to NYS.  

The filling station went out of business, the property fell into disrepair and was a boarded up vacant blighted site for many years.  A proposal was made to demolish the old filling station and to build a Hess gas station with a retail operation. Variances were required for the retail operation. Public hearings were held and the public showed up in large numbers with a majority opposing the granting of variances which would allow for the retail operation. The Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) approved the variances. The Town Board was divided with Councilman McCarthy, Creighton and Malloy supporting the proposal and Supervisor Vecchio and Councilman Wehrheim in opposition.   Between the time Councilman Malloy lost his election and before the the new board was sworn in, the board moved to approve the Hess proposal which included the variances.  

New Hess station corner of Harned and Jericho Tpke. CommackMr. Kim spoke quietly at the public hearings, not in opposition to the proposed Hess Station, but he spoke in detail about his business, his roots in the community and his business needs. (Mr. Kim was born in South Korea and moved to the U.S. at the age of five. Kim lived in Setauket attended Ward Melville HS and attended church in Commack. He has a bachelor’s degree from Stony Brook University and a masters from Adelphi University.) Not surprisingly access was his concern. His remarks revolved around ensuring that his business would be able to survive and thrive as it had for twenty-two years.  According to Mr. Kim, he has spoken with representatives at the Planning Department, NYS Department Of Transportation and the owners of the property, Lenny and Mike Icovino, who in a letter to Mr. Kim proposed the purchase of Mr.Kim’s property.   All offered assurances that Mr. Kim’s concerns would be addressed.

Mr. Kim, in an interview in his office Monday, July 28th, expressed his frustration with the Town, the DOT and with his future neighbor. Earlier this month, after receiving permits from NYS DOT, thirteen feet of Mr. Kim’s curb cut was removed narrowing access to his property without his consent.  To add insult ot injury, construction vehicles parked on the street in front of his property obstructed visibility and access. Mr. Kim pointed out that he located on Jericho paying a premium for his property because of its visibility and accessibility.

Mr. Kim has documents showing covenants on the property which allow him access and parking in the back of the property which have been eliminated by the ongoing construction. A second covenant, according to Mr. Kim, is the prohibition of a restaurant facility to be built on the site, which he argues is exactly what Hess is doing by serving food and beverages.

According to Mr. Kim the town is denying any responsibility for covenants suggesting it is a civil matter. 

What does Mr. Kim want? He wants his curb cut returned to its former state, cross access and parking, and he wants to be allowed to operate the way he has for the past twenty-two years. How does this end? Mr Kim has secured legal counsel and is going to do whatever is necessary to have his property returned to its original state.  “I’m not stopping at the first round. This will continue until I get satisfaction and I am left alone.”