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Commack developer trades land with Smithtown in exchange for increasing size of a shopping center

A file photo taken on Friday, Dec. 12,

A file photo taken on Friday, Dec. 12, 2014 shows one part of the PJ Venture-owned shopping center located just off the Long Island Expressway at Commack Road in Commack. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Smithtown Town Board members unanimously supported plans by a Commack development company to preserve two vacant properties, donating one to the town, in exchange for increasing the size of its 54-acre shopping center site.

The town board voted 5-0 Tuesday to accept an environmental application that showed no harmful impacts by amending conditions for PJ Venture LLC's 1992 zone change petition for Consentino Commerce Center. The change allows the company to gain an additional 17,555 square feet of floor space and generate about 962 extra gallons of wastewater per day.

"It was nice to get everybody's vote, and with the final approval, we'll start moving forward," said John Baker, director of projects for PJ Venture.

Under the proposal, PJ Venture would preserve a 0.34-acre site on Arthur Street near Crooked Hill Road and a 1.1-acre site at Sunken Meadow Parkway and Veterans' Memorial Highway in Commack -- transferring a deed for the latter to the town, officials said.

The amount of wastewater allowed to be generated would transfer from the two properties to the shopping center, Russell Barnett, town environmental protection director, said. The shopping center is in the Oak Brush Plains Special Groundwater Protection Area -- one of nine on Long Island designated by the state legislature, he said.

In 1994, Smithtown officials restricted density, floor area and usage of the shopping center to limit potential impacts on groundwater, assistant town planning director David Flynn has said.

Town officials said keeping the two other Commack sites in their natural state is beneficial.

"It preserves additional land and it's additional tax revenue to the shopping center and provides needed jobs," said Smithtown Councilman Thomas McCarthy.

Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said the plan enables the shopping area "to expand while protecting other properties from demolition and developing the future of our water supply."

Baker has said the company does not have immediate plans to build anything, but added, "Every time we add a building, we pay more taxes."

The next step is for the town to vote on the zone change amendment at a future public meeting and sign off on the deed transfer and new conditions, said Flynn Wednesday.

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