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Smithtown planning board approves 55-and-over apartment complex in Commack

An aerial view of the property approved by

An aerial view of the property approved by the Smithtown planning board for a 118-unit, age-restricted apartment complex on Jan. 20, 2016. The 6.75-acre lot is on the south side of Jericho Turnpike east of Mayfair Terrace in Commack. Credit: Town of Smithtown

Smithtown Planning Board members voted unanimously to conditionally approve a change of zone petition needed to build a 118-unit apartment complex in Commack, advancing the application for consideration by the town board.

Town planning members voted 4-0 Wednesday night, with board member Tom Unverzagt absent, to grant TDG Commack LLC’s request to change the zoning from wholesale and service industry and single-family residence to garden apartments. The zoning change would allow the company to build an apartment complex and sewage treatment plant on a 6.75-acre lot on the south side of Jericho Turnpike, east of Mayfair Terrace.

The site is occupied by Courtesy Inn — a motel consisting of two one-story buildings and a utility structure, according to officials.

TDG Commack plans to purchase the property, demolish the structures and build a two-story garden apartment complex, said the company’s attorney, John Armentano of Farrell Fritz’s Hauppauge office. The complex would be composed of 42 two-bedroom units and 76 one-bedroom units, for residents age 55 and older, he said.

Monthly rents would range between $1,550 and $2,300, TDG representatives told the board at a December hearing.

Planning board members agreed Wednesday to make the age restriction a condition of approving the zone-change petition.

“We can only make a recommendation to the town board, but in my opinion, [the age restriction] should be a condition in our recommendation,” said board member James T. Ehrhardt. “If it’s approved without it, then one year, two years, three years, five years down the road, they can put anything there less than 55 and over, and I don’t know that’s what we really intend here.”

Board members also specified five other conditions of approval, such as providing two parking stalls per dwelling unit, preserving a natural buffer within 30 feet of the rear lot line and adding various shrubs and shade trees to the buffer to protect a residential neighborhood to the rear.

Robert DiNoto, a partner of TDG Commack along with Paul Posillico, said Wednesday after the hearing that the pair were pleased by the board’s decision.

DiNoto said the project offers needed apartment housing stock for local seniors.

“Fifty-five and over is a good fit for this area,” he said.

According to a memo written to the planning board last month by town planning director David Flynn about TDG’s petition, a draft update of the town’s master plan, completed in February 2015, shows “the town lacks the diversity of residence types needed to meet the present and future needs of town residents.”

“Nationwide, about 33 percent of all dwellings are in apartments or townhomes, but in Smithtown the number is about 15 percent,” the memo said.

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