Smithtown Town Board members have voted to tear down three dilapidated buildings in a vacant lumber yard opposite town hall that was the focus of a 2011 Suffolk County grand jury probe.
The board conditionally approved the site plan for demolition by VEA 181st Realty Corp., which is owned by East Hampton-based developer Salvatore DiCarlo.
DiCarlo wants to raze the former Nassau Suffolk Lumber and Supply Corp. that is in the lumber yard, and two vacant, adjacent buildings that used to house a law office and tattoo parlor. All the structures are on West Main Street.
DiCarlo is awaiting final approval on his demolition permit applications from the building and planning departments, said Joseph Arico, town building director.
Vincent J. Trimarco Sr., DiCarlo's attorney, said he and his client are happy that the town board approved demolition plans.
"We're working on putting in all the final papers," Trimarco added.
The property had been the focus of a grand jury probe that concluded in 2012 with no charges filed. The panel investigated whether unidentified town officials had persuaded DiCarlo to illegally demolish structures on the site in 2009 to save $40,000 in taxes. The report found that the tax savings yield was just $4,000.
In November 2013, the town board unanimously approved a zoning modification allowing DiCarlo to draft plans to construct a three-story apartment complex with about 60 apartments, and 12,000 to 15,000 square feet of retail space, according to planning officials.
The modification added "residential purposes" to a zoning covenant that restricted a 0.9-acre southern portion of DiCarlo's roughly 3-acre property to lumber yard or office building use, officials said.
Assistant Town Planner David Flynn said last week's 4-0 vote -- with Councilman Robert Creighton absent -- applies only to the demolition. "It's not site plan approval for new development," Flynn added.
Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio and Councilmen Thomas McCarthy, Robert Creighton and Edward Wehrheim have said the proposal would be a boon to Main Street.
"I am supportive of . . . rental apartments in the business district," Wehrheim said Tuesday. "It's an area that's been abandoned for I think 12 years or so, so I'm anxious to see them get to work and make the improvements."