Proposed Commack gas station moves forward

This is the southeast corner of Jericho Turnpike

This is the southeast corner of Jericho Turnpike and Harned Road in Commack, a five-road intersection where developers want to put a Hess gas station. (Feb. 10, 2012) (Credit: Daniel Brennan)

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A proposed Hess gas station in Commack has moved forward in the approval process after the Smithtown Town Board accepted a report that the controversial project will not hurt the environment.

Board members, in a 4-1 vote last Thursday, approved the negative declaration based on state environmental standards for the proposed 12-pump gas station and convenience store.

Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio voted against approval. "I'm just opposed to the entire project," Vecchio said. "The gas station is proposed in a very dangerous intersection."

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Town board members voted 3-2 in 2008 to reject Hess' proposal at the same Jericho Turnpike and Harned Road location, but voted 3-2 in March 2012 to approve a zoning change, which allowed the convenience store to be built along with the gas station.

More than 100 people attended the March meeting, with many neighbors saying they opposed the project because it would add traffic and make the five-corner intersection that includes entrance and exit ramps for the Sunken Meadow Parkway more dangerous.

Hess officials have said their traffic studies show that site plans won't create additional traffic risks.

Supporters of the project said it would remedy the eyesore the site has become since a Shell gas station closed there in 2007.

"You know what's an eyesore?" said Rochelle Pachman, of Commack, last year, adding that her car was struck at that intersection. "The sight of lights and sirens at another accident at that intersection."

Councilman Kevin Malloy said "it's a safe intersection," based on his examination of Suffolk County police reports on traffic incidents for the intersection.

Malloy said Vecchio "made a mistake" when he voted no. "How do you vote no on something that's an administrative act that your experts in the town . . . said there's no problem with it? If you want to vote no, you vote on the site plan approval when that comes before the town board."

No date has been set for the project to come before the town board for site plan approval, officials said.

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