Plans to build stores, offices and apartments at the site of a long-vacant lumber yard on Main Street in downtown Smithtown appear to be picking up speed.
The East Hampton-based owner of the site is asking town officials to modify zoning restrictions and approve variances that would allow him to build on the 3-acre property. Town officials have signaled they support the development.
A town board public hearing on the zoning petition is scheduled for 7 p.m. on March 21 at the town senior center, 420 Middle Country Rd.
The town board of zoning appeals will consider the variance requests, but a date for a public hearing has not been set, said Smithtown attorney Vincent Trimarco, who represents developer Salvatore DiCarlo.
The site, across the street from Smithtown Town Hall, consists of an empty parking lot and decaying buildings.
The parcel was the focus of a Suffolk grand jury probe that ended last year with no charges filed. The panel investigated whether unnamed town officials had induced DiCarlo to raze structures on the site for $4,000 in tax savings in 2009.
Town officials say DiCarlo has stepped up efforts to develop the site since the grand jury probe ended. Moreover, they applaud his proposal to construct three- and four-story buildings with space for stores and about 56 apartments.
"It certainly appears there's a need for that," said Councilman Edward Wehrheim, saying the project would bring tax revenue and affordable housing. "It's vital to the survival of the downtown business district."
The plans call for first-floor stores and about 20 second-story apartments along Main Street, and separate buildings with about 36 apartments in the rear section of the property.
The design is a "step in the right direction," said Greater Smithtown Chamber of Commerce president Mark Mancini. He said the site, within walking distance of the Smithtown Long Island Rail Road station, is an ideal location for apartments.
"That's what a downtown is about. A downtown is about stores on the bottom . . . and apartments on the upstairs," Mancini said. "That's what we're lacking."
Trimarco said DiCarlo is looking forward to building on the site.
"I think everybody wants this to be over with," Trimarco said. "I know he does."