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Commack mall request draws anger from neighbors

The Mayfair Shopping Center in Commack. (March 29,

The Mayfair Shopping Center in Commack. (March 29, 2013) Credit: Ed Betz

When a stop sign was damaged during a February snowstorm at the Mayfair Shopping Center in Commack, the Rev. Dennis Walker called the mall's New Jersey-based owners.

Walker, pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church and a neighbor of the mall for three years, said a Levin Management Corp. employee returned his call within an hour.

"They said, 'OK, well, we'll think about it,' " said Walker, adding that it took a month for the sign to be replaced. "I was shocked by that answer. It's the lamest answer I've heard in years."

About 50 years after the mall and hundreds of nearby homes were built as a planned community, many homeowners complain that the 218,000-square-foot shopping center is a poor neighbor. They say the complex -- which includes stores such as Waldbaum's, Gap and Outback Steakhouse -- is despoiled by trash, vermin and late-night drag racing in the parking lot.

More than a dozen neighbors last week voiced their concerns to the Town of Smithtown planning board, which is considering Levin Management's request for a 3,568-square-foot extension.

"I'd like to show you some photographs of the garbage in the back," said George Gibbons, of Magnolia Drive. "One day a rat ran past with a half-eaten bagel in its mouth."

Company executive vice president Robert Carson, in a statement emailed to Newsday, said they "will continue to respond in a timely manner to any questions or concerns from local residents."

"Our pre-emptive approach to retail property management guarantees the center will remain an attractive, safe place for consumers to shop and for tenants to do business," Carson said.

The addition could house a restaurant, but a tenant has yet to be found, said Mayfair attorney Anthony S. Guardino, of Uniondale law firm Farrell Fritz.

Guardino suggested at the hearing that the planning board ignore neighbors' concerns about the mall's condition. The company has placed rat traps at the 25-acre site, he said. "This is not a referendum on whether the Mayfair Shopping Center should be here or not," Guardino said at the hearing. "None of these things are particularly relevant to this application."

But neighbors said Levin officials had failed to resolve problems. When planning board chairman John Gee suggested residents call the company, many in the packed meeting room laughed.

Several planning board members, noting drawings showing the addition would be in an area used for deliveries and parking, questioned how delivery trucks would make turns. Guardino said plans could be revised to resolve the issue.

The planning board reserved its decision. The extension also must be approved by the town board, acting as the board of site plan review.

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