The Smithtown town board has unanimously voted to approve site plans for a convenience store in Nesconset that officials say will replace an eyesore of a home and be a more compatible neighbor to a Sept. 11 memorial park across the street.
J. Nazzaro Partnership of Bay Shore plans to erect a 7-Eleven on the northwest corner of Gibbs Pond Road and Smithtown Boulevard, across from 9/11 Responders Remembered Park.
The 7-Eleven is expected to be open by next fall, Nazzaro said.
Councilman Thomas McCarthy said the store's designs show it will be "upscale."
"You're getting rid of a derelict site, and you're going to have a tax-producing business and one that is going to be employing people," McCarthy said. "It will clean up that whole corner."
Martin Aponte, president of the 9/11 Responders Remembered Park Inc., expressed "mixed emotions" about the 7-Eleven replacing the eyesore. He was receptive to having better-looking company for the park.
"It's certainly very welcoming that they're going to be razing that building It's just a showing that the Town of Smithtown is moving forward with development and new business," said Aponte, adding that the area has enough convenience stores.
The park organization considered purchasing the property to create a museum and for parking, but did not have necessary funds, he said.
Aponte said he was "happy that we're going to have a new neighbor" and hoped 7-Eleven owners would allow park visitors to leave their vehicles there, "visit the site, and get a cup of coffee."
Jim Nazzaro, managing partner of the development company that owns the property, said it was leased to 7-Eleven, which will select a franchisee.
"It will really be up to that franchisee if he wanted to accommodate" Aponte's request, said Nazzaro, adding that if the franchisee "had any type of business sense or patriotism, he would accommodate that."
Nazzaro suggested Aponte talk with the franchisee before the opening. "When there's communication and co-operation, usually everybody benefits in the end." The two-story home where the 7-Eleven will be constructed was deemed structurally unsafe in August 2012, town building director John Bongino said.
Town building inspectors communicated with the former owner, Ralph Hilbert, in 2009 about the structure's broken windows, hanging gutters and rotting wood, he said. Inspectors found an open cesspool May 24, 2010 -- a day before the home was vacated, Bongino said.
The home is in neighborhood business zoning, town planning director Frank DeRubeis said.
Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said he voted for the site plans, because, "The planning department gave its stamp of approval on the design and the architecture, replacing an old, dilapidated structure in a commercial district."
Plans include constructing a 3,000-square-foot retail commercial building and a two-way drive for patrons to enter and exit on Gibbs Pond Road, DeRubeis said. A second entry-only driveway will be built on Smithtown Boulevard, he said.
DeRubeis said that the developer must obtain a building permit from the Town of Smithtown and road opening permits from Suffolk County.