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Smithtown board OKs site plan for Chick-fil-A in Commack

French fries and a fried chicken sandwich seen

French fries and a fried chicken sandwich seen during an event Friday, Oct. 2, 2015, before the grand opening for a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Manhattan. Credit: Bloomberg News / Michael Nagle

Chick-fil-A will be headed to Commack, making it Long Island’s third location.

Smithtown town board members unanimously approved a site plan Tuesday with conditions for the popular Georgia-based chain, as part of a shopping center redevelopment project. The vote was 5-0.

Cosentino Realty Commack plans to demolish an existing shopping center and adjacent one-story office building totaling about 14,000 square feet on Commack Road, south of Henry Street. The company plans to replace those structures with a 4,876-square-foot Chick-fil-A with a drive-thru, as well as a nearly 11,000-square-foot building that would include a Sabrosa restaurant with outdoor dining, a pizza shop, Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin-Robbins with a drive-thru and a pet store.

“We were anticipating a good outcome. We were conforming to zoning,” said John Baker, director of projects for Cosentino Realty Commack/PJ Venture LLC.

Councilwoman Lynne C. Nowick said the development is in a good area where industry is already present.

Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said he voted for the site plan “because there’s nothing detrimental about replacing an old strip center with a new one.”

Long Island’s first Chick-fil-A opened in October in Port Jefferson Station. Chick-fil-A locations in Hicksville and Commack are scheduled to open in the third quarter this year, a company spokeswoman said Thursday.

The Commack site is in the Town of Smithtown but borders Huntington Town. At a June zoning board meeting, the plan drew criticism from more than a dozen Huntington Town residents, who shared quality-of-life and traffic safety concerns.

The Smithtown Board of Zoning Appeals approved two special-exception requests and some variances needed for the project in October. The board denied Cosentino’s request for outdoor dining at the Chick-fil-A, saying it was prohibited in the town’s zoning ordinance.

Councilman Edward Wehrheim said the project was similar to a controversial Sonic in Nesconset that was ultimately approved after a judge reversed the zoning board’s denial. “Elected officials do not have the right to turn projects down based on unsubstantiated residential opposition,” he said.

Though Wehrheim vowed to protect residents, he said the Commack development is in a commercial area. “If we continue to stop or thwart development in commercial areas, there’s no jobs” or added tax revenue, he said.

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