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Town officials weigh zoning change for downtown Smithtown lumber yard

Town of Smithtown officials plan to vote next week on a proposed zoning modification that would allow a developer to proceed with plans to construct a three-story apartment complex downtown in the hamlet of Smithtown.

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

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

Town board members said they plan on Tuesday to discuss a modification that includes "residential purposes" in the condition.

"The lifting of that restriction will be to permit residents in that particular area," said DeRubeis, adding that the planning department favors the change. "This is what everybody is doing. It's considered a smart growth policy -- expand where you can."

Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said he believes the town board will approve the amendment if DiCarlo agrees to demolish all buildings and clean up the property by April 1. The site has been vacant for about six years, said Vecchio, and has become "a blight."

Vecchio said he supports the project, adding, "It is definitely a positive occurrence for Main Street."

Smithtown Councilmen Thomas McCarthy, Robert Creighton and Edward Wehrheim also said they favor the project. "It's going to bring offices, new stores and residents that will live in the downtown district, which we hope will shop in the downtown district," said McCarthy. "I don't see a reason why they can't have a shovel in the ground this spring if the plans are submitted in a timely fashion."

The project has been stalled the past five years.

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

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

Wehrheim said it marks a "great beginning for revitalizing the downtown business district."

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