Despite objections from the town's chief planner, members of the Smithtown Town Board expressed support Tuesday for a proposed gas station at state Routes 347 and 111.
Town board members said the business and an attached convenience store would spruce up a vacant property at the intersection's northwest corner. An abandoned building sits on the site, where a filling station closed more than three years ago.
The property's owner, Bolla Management Corp. of Garden City, which operates dozens of gas stations on Long Island and in New York City, is requesting a zoning change for an adjacent property. The residential parcel would be rezoned for a neighborhood business so Bolla can build a 16-pump filling station and a 1,200-square-foot convenience store.
Town planning director Frank DeRubeis, during a town board work session Tuesday, said he opposed the project because the state roads are heavily congested. "What we're talking about is significantly expanding the use at this intersection," he said.
But councilmen Edward Wehrheim and Thomas McCarthy supported the proposal. They said the town board had unanimously supported an environmental review that found no major issues at the site, and the town's Traffic Safety Department expressed no concern.
"I think it's a good piece of development," Wehrheim said.
In an interview, McCarthy said DeRubeis "made some good points," but said he believes Bolla is entitled to build the gas station. "When you look at the pluses and minuses, plus the legal aspect of people's property rights, it leaves no alternative but to vote yes on it," McCarthy said.
Councilman Robert Creighton said he opposed further traffic studies at the site. Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said he is undecided on the proposal.
Bolla must obtain the zoning change and town board approval of a site plan, which also faces review by the state Department of Transportation.