A Smithtown developer has proposed a two-story retail and apartment building on a wooded corner of Smithtown Boulevard and Annetta Avenue, but neighbors have parking and environmental concerns.
Developer Frank Kiridly would build 7,314 square feet of retail space on the first floor and six 600-square-foot apartments on the second floor. The parcel is 1.5 acres.
Kiridly lawyer Vincent Trimarco asked at a July 16 Zoning Board of Appeals meeting for a special exception to permit six apartments as well as variances to reduce the minimum parking from 79 to 59 stalls and permit building next to or altering sloped land.
Town planners earlier this month recommended approving most of the variances with conditions, including one that would limit high traffic uses such as a restaurant or bar to one-third of the retail space.
Trimarco said the project would help meet a long-standing demand for apartment living in the town and serve the neighborhood better than a version town officials had previously approved in 2014 with fewer apartments and more ground floor retail. “With an apartment, a guy leaves in the morning and comes back at night,” impacting the neighborhood less than a business might, he said in an interview.
All of the parking spaces will be in the front of the building where they are more likely to be used, a departure from typical commercial design that puts some spaces behind, where customers rarely venture, he said. But neighbor Calliope Mitsinikos, speaking at last week's hearing, said she worried about overflow parking on surrounding streets. That would be a “disaster,” she said, worsening the three-way intersection of Terry Road, Smithtown Boulevard and Annetta Avenue that she said was already dangerous.
And while town planners in a July 9 report said the project would remove “the majority of the natural buffer” on the property’s east side, next to a residential neighborhood, plans call for its replacement with plantings, landscaping and tiered retaining walls. That would provide a 42-foot buffer, “substantially greater” than the 10-foot requirement, they wrote.
The planned construction worried Anthony Tierno, an amateur wildlife photographer who lives nearby. He said at the hearing that box turtles, screech owls and gray horned owls live in “one of the last remaining mature oak stands around." Any displacement would also affect the humans who live nearby, Mitsinikos said: “The more natural land we take away, the more these critters are going to invade our yards."
Town officials are examining possible impacts on wildlife as part of their preliminary environmental review of the project, town planner Peter Hans said in an interview.
Trimarco, speaking at last Tuesday's hearing, responded to concerns about the wildlife by noting the buffer that his client planned to install. “Maybe they can live there.”