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Residents say planned BJs at Commack Shopping Center would worsen traffic

At a recent Smithtown Town Council meeting representatives

At a recent Smithtown Town Council meeting representatives for BJ's and the Commack Shopping Center laid out a plan to demolish a two-story, 213,000-square-foot Macy's department store that anchored the site for 20 years and replace it with a 104,000-square-foot, one-story building built on the same footprint to house the warehouse club chain. Credit: Google Maps

Commack residents at a recent Smithtown Town Council meeting reiterated concerns that a BJ’s Wholesale Club planned for Commack Shopping Center would clog area roads, though a traffic study commissioned by the shopping center's owner anticipated little impact. 

“Out of all the locations BJ’s could have looked for, there couldn’t be a worse location,” Stephen Weiner said at Thursday's meeting, warning that it would generate a “huge amount of traffic” in an area whose Route 25 and Commack Road commercial corridors are already busy. 

Other residents worried about 18-wheelers they said would use local streets to deliver to the warehouse chain store.

“The amount of traffic that’s going to be coming from all the deliveries, the trucks: We can’t handle it,” said Felisa Hoffman, who said vehicle crashes are already frequent near the Veterans Memorial Highway shopping center. 

Opponents made similar comments at an Oct. 22 Zoning Board of Appeals hearing when representatives for BJ’s and the shopping center outlined a plan to demolish a two-story, 213,000-square-foot Macy’s department store that has anchored the site for 20 years and replace it with a 104,000-square-foot, one-story building built on the same footprint.

But the traffic study, conducted by Huntington-based R & M Engineering and submitted to the town last week, concluded that the new store would cause "no degradation" in level of service of area roads, with "little to no increase" in traffic delays.

Engineers estimated that BJ's would generate 436 vehicle trips to and from its location during peak afternoon commuting hours and 664 trips during peak Saturday hours. They also estimated that the 1,030 parking spaces they propose would be "ample" for the 625 vehicles they expect to park there on Saturdays.

Town Council members, who have no direct authority over ZBA applications, listened to residents’ concerns at last week's meeting but made little comment. 

Shopping center representatives are asking for zoning variances related to parking, signage and landscaping.

They have said their project would actually improve traffic at the site, widening an exit and installing a left turn lane to Jericho Turnpike near a Michaels store at the site’s east end.

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