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Chick-fil-A proposal in Commack faces opposition from residents near site

Another Chick-fil-A could be coming to Long Island if zoning requests to Smithtown Town by a developer pass muster. However, many residents from neighborhoods nearby oppose the Commack location, fearing heavier traffic on already heavily used roads in the shopping district. The proposal will be taken up July 28, 2015. (Credit: Newsday / Megan Miller)

Residents have expressed concern about the additional traffic Long Island's third potential Chick-fil-A could cause on the already-busy Commack Road if zoning requests pass muster before Smithtown's board of zoning appeals.

Cosentino Realty Commack has requested two special exceptions and variances needed to replace an existing shopping center at 660-670 Commack Rd., and an adjacent one-story office building identified in planning documents as YAI -- an organization that serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families -- with the popular Atlanta-based chicken franchise, along with retail businesses and another restaurant.

The proposal for the roughly 4.8-acre site calls for building a 4,876-square-foot Chick-fil-A with a drive-thru and indoor and outdoor seating, as well as a 10,868-square-foot building that would include a Sabrosa restaurant with outdoor dining, a pizza shop, Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin-Robbins drive-thru and a pet store, Smithtown planning officials said.

John Baker, director of projects for PJ Venture LLC, which is developing the property, said the existing shopping center was probably built in the 1950s and that YAI plans to relocate. "The facade and the site itself is outdated," he said in an interview. "Parking is not up to today's standards. . . . When it's all done, it will be a modern-looking shopping center and parking lot."

The property, near the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the Lowe's and Target retail stores, is in Smithtown but borders Huntington Town. More than a dozen Huntington Town residents who live near the proposed site spoke at a June 9 zoning board meeting, sharing quality-of-life and traffic safety concerns.

Suffolk County Legis. Steve Stern (D-Huntington) said at the meeting that the developer should do a full environmental review and traffic analysis.

When he first saw the proposal, Stern said he thought, "Are they really proposing two drive-ins in one site plan on . . . one of the busiest county roads in all of Suffolk County?"

Judith Cohen, 63, of Dix Hills, said she worried about emergency access to residents.

"There should be a way to funnel traffic away from Commack Road," she said. "Not to add to traffic there."

Town of Huntington planning officials in a June 8 letter requested a study of traffic at Commack Road and Imperial Gate, which is the only intersection with a signal that residents would share with the proposed development.

Huntington officials also raised objections about the location of Chick-fil-A menu boards near homes.

Baker said in an interview that traffic would be improved by limiting the entrance and exit to the site from three areas to one, but declined to comment on neighbors' concerns.

The Smithtown Board of Zoning Appeals adjourned the request to July 28, and required the developer to submit a traffic study to the town planning department.

An application for a Chick-fil-A in Hicksville is also pending in the Town of Oyster Bay.

Brenda Morrow, a spokeswoman for the chain, said an approved franchise is to open in Port Jefferson Station this fall, making it the first stand-alone site in New York State.

What may be in store

Chick-fil-A's proposed Commack site would be 4,876 square feet and include:

* A drive-through window

* 134 indoor seats

* 22 outdoor seats

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