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Smithtown approves apartments zone change for former lumber yard

Smithtown councilman Thomas J. McCarthy. (Aug. 15, 2013)

Smithtown councilman Thomas J. McCarthy. (Aug. 15, 2013) Credit: Newsday/Ed Betz

Town board members have unanimously approved a zoning modification allowing a developer to pursue plans to construct a three-story apartment complex in the downtown of the hamlet of Smithtown.

East Hampton-based Salvatore DiCarlo, owner of a vacant former lumber yard on West Main Street, wants to erect about 60 apartments and 12,000 to 15,000 square feet of retail shops at the site, town planner Frank DeRubeis said.

The 0.9-acre southern portion of DiCarlo's roughly 3-acre property is subject to a zoning covenant that limits its use to a lumber yard or office building, DeRubeis said.

Town board members approved a zoning modification that includes "residential purposes" in the covenant, with a stipulation that DiCarlo demolish existing structures by April 1.

"It's an eyesore, and they're dangerous," said Councilman Thomas McCarthy. "They have to remove the remaining deteriorating buildings for that condition to stay lifted."

Vincent J. Trimarco Sr., Smithtown-based attorney for DiCarlo said, "Obviously they're very happy that the town board lifted the covenant and [are] looking forward to doing the apartment complex."

Trimarco said he and DiCarlo plan to meet with DeRubeis this week to discuss plans for the project.

Supervisor Patrick Vecchio has previously said he supports the development, describing it as a "positive occurrence for Main Street."

McCarthy, along with Councilmen Robert Creighton and Edward Wehrheim, has also said it will be a boon to Main Street.

"I think you need a spark to start it, and once people see there is some new development going on, I think that will attract more developers to come," Wehrheim said.

DeRubeis said DiCarlo must next submit a site plan to the town planning department. After it is approved, he can apply for building permits and begin work.

"Hopefully by the spring," McCarthy said, "they'll have all their paperwork and will be able to start their project."

The project has been stalled the past five years, officials said.

DiCarlo submitted several designs while considering different sewage treatment options before deciding to build a self-contained sewage treatment facility on site, DeRubeis said.

The property had also been the focus of a Suffolk County grand jury probe that ended last year with no charges filed. The panel investigated whether unidentified town officials had induced DiCarlo to illegally demolish structures on the site to save on taxes.

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