Over the objections of some Commack residents and a nearby business owner, the Smithtown planning board has cleared the way for a new gas station near the Sunken Meadow State Parkway.

The board approved a zoning change Wednesday allowing a Hess to replace a Shell station that closed more than a year ago at the southeast corner of Harned Road and Jericho Turnpike.

In addition to gas pumps, Hess would build a minimart at the site, which is less than an acre in size, said Sayville attorney Eugene L. DeNicola, who represents Hess.

The town board must approve the plan before construction can begin. The zoning change is required because Hess is proposing a convenience store in addition to a gas station, town planning officials said.

The proposal worried Rudy Massa, owner of Gasoline Heaven, a filling station and auto-repair shop east of the Hess site on Jericho Turnpike. Massa said his and other local businesses would struggle.

"You're going to put two guys out of business; and you'll be back to square one," Massa said at a public hearing held before the planning board made its decision. "I think it would be doing a disservice to the community."

DeNicola gave town planners a petition that he said was signed by 86 supporters of the Hess station. Massa said he would give town planners a petition signed by 500 opponents of the project.

Neighbors who live near the old Shell station said Hess would add too much traffic to an intersection clogged by vehicles entering and exiting the parkway. The intersection receives about 41,000 vehicles a day, said Wayne Muller, a traffic engineer hired by Hess.

Smithtown town planning director Frank DeRubeis opposed the zoning change. He said a gas station and convenience store will create more traffic than a gas station alone.

"Our concern is that you're generating traffic at peak traffic times," DeRubeis told DeNicola during the hearing.

But planning board member Adam Oshrin, who supported the zoning change, described the former Shell station as "a totally blighted site." The station is boarded up.

The vote was 4-0. Board member James Ehrhardt abstained because of the planning department's opposition.

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