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.
“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)