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Smith Haven Mall restaurant gets go-ahead

Nurses from the Stony Brook University Hospital give

Nurses from the Stony Brook University Hospital give blood pressure tests in the food court at the mall. (Sept. 27, 2000) Credit: Don Jacobsen

A proposed restaurant at the Smith Haven Mall that drew the ire of Lake Grove's mayor has been approved by the Smithtown Town board.

The board rejected Lake Grove Mayor Robert Scottaline's pleas to include the village in a review of the proposed Bahama Breeze restaurant, because the mall crosses the borders of Smithtown and Lake Grove, which is in the Town of Brookhaven.

In August, Scottaline asked town officials to force the restaurant's owners to seek the village's approval of the 7,900-square-foot eatery.

But Smithtown town board members said the village had no role in the approval process because Bahama Breeze would be on the town's side of the border. They said the restaurant would create jobs and tax revenue at the mall, where it would join chains such as The Cheesecake Factory and TGI Friday's.

"Bahama Breeze is just an extension of the mall," Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said in an interview. It would be the first Bahama Breeze in New York.

The town board on Tuesday voted unanimously in favor of the project. It did not require the restaurant's owner, Darden Concepts of Orlando, Fla., to seek the village's approval.

Scottaline could not be reached for comment.

The Caribbean-themed Bahama Breeze has franchises in 14 states, but none in New York. Spokesmen for Darden Concepts and for the mall declined to comment.

Scottaline, in an August letter to Vecchio, said the town and village traditionally cooperated on reviews of new businesses at the mall. The mayor said the restaurant would create too much traffic and add to sewage treatment problems at the site.

"The mall, as you are aware, is present in both municipalities, and what happens on one side certainly affects the other side," Scottaline wrote.

Some neighbors of the mall also opposed the restaurant, saying they feared increased traffic around the shopping center.

After the board voted on Tuesday, Nesconset resident Camille Johnson, referring to Bahama Breeze and other development near the mall, said the town was "rushing to construct these businesses without considering the effect on the community . . . I really wish that the town board would consider the residents, instead of just the businesses."

Town officials responded that residents' concerns were heard at two public hearings.

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