A rendering of the mini-storage facility proposed in Fort Salonga.

A rendering of the mini-storage facility proposed in Fort Salonga. Credit: bld architecture

Former truck maker Andrew Dejana is seeking once more to build a mini-storage facility near the Fort Salonga headquarters of the company he used to run.

His new proposal — slimmed-down after a three-story design drew complaints last year — calls for a two-story, 70,000-square foot building and outdoor storage for up to 230 vehicles near Dejana Truck and Utility Equipment's site at Pulaski and Town Line roads in Fort Salonga.

The application is Smithtown's fifth in two years for a storage facility, town planners said, reflecting demand from residents storing household goods and furniture but also from business owners storing equipment. Officials have scheduled a Feb. 8 Board of Zoning Appeals hearing.

Dejana, who retired in 2019, initially envisioned a 100,000-square foot building covering 69% of the parcel it occupied. That was well over the town’s standard for light industry, intended to limit density, capping that ratio at 42%.

One neighbor called it a "noisy eyesore" in an email to town planners, and department staff were skeptical of the application. Planner Blaise Donadio wrote in a February 2021 report that it required "22 variances for the mini storage facility alone." They included requests to deviate from town code requiring earth-tone finishes for storage buildings, and to make the storage units visible from the street.

Dejana will no longer request many of those variances and now proposes a lower-profile building about 24 feet high that moves 30,000 square feet of storage into a cellar. "The feedback from the community and the Planning Department was that they wanted to bring the overall height down, so we took a floor off," Dejana told Newsday.

He plans a berm around the storage building and plantings to further screen it. He no longer proposes an illuminated sign for Pulaski Road and the vehicle storage lot will not be visible from the street, he said. He will still need a variance to exceed the permitted floor area ratio for the main building by 7%, along with setback variances and one to increase the size of a ground sign advertising the facility from 32 to 80 square feet.

Applicants have submitted about six development proposals in Fort Salonga over the past two years. Several — a 7-Eleven, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility and subdivision of the Owl Hill estate for single-family homes — provoked outcry.

Keith Macartney, president of the civic group Fort Salonga Association told Newsday this month the area was being "bombarded by commercial projects," including Dejana’s. He said last week he had not seen the revisions.

Several neighbors who criticized the earlier proposal did not respond to requests for comment or declined to comment. Anthony Aloisio, planning director for the Town of Huntington, which lies west of Town Line Road, complained last year in a letter about the "sheer volume of variances" initially requested; he said last week the revisions appeared to be moving "in the right direction" but declined to comment in detail because he had not examined new plans.

Dejana Truck and Utility Equipment, started as a Huntington service station in 1957, builds specialized truck bodies. The family sold the company in 2016 to Milwaukee-based Douglas Dynamics for a reported $206 million. Andrew Dejana is the son of company founder Pete Dejana.

The proposal

643 interior storage units, 24 drive-up units for boats and RVs for indoor only storage

3 drive-in doors, 2 elevators for interior loading

1,000 trees and shrubs for screening

Source: Andrew Dejana

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