Neighbors of a Smithtown tree service say the firm should not be allowed to have a used-car lot in a buffer zone on the company's property.

More than a dozen residents spoke Tuesday night at a meeting of the town Board of Zoning Appeals, which is considering Reliable Tree Service's request for variances and special exceptions to allow car and truck storage on its West Jericho Turnpike parcel.

Reliable owner Frank Prisco and his attorney, Vincent Trimarco of Smithtown, acknowledged that Select Auto Group maintains a used-car business in the back of the property. Tree-service vehicles are parked in front, they said.

Trimarco asked that a 50-foot buffer be reduced to 10 feet to allow more car storage, arguing the smaller buffer would be "more than adequate, given that there is a town sump" between the business and nearby homes.

But some residents said Reliable already stores cars within the buffer, which is supposed to be vacant under town code.

Linda Jablonsky said the board should not "reward" the company for violating zoning laws. "The sump is not a replacement for the buffer," she added.

At a town board meeting earlier Tuesday, deputy town attorney Matthew Jakubowski said the town may take legal action if Reliable violates zoning laws.

Resident Brian Fleischmann asked officials at the town board meeting why Prisco had been allowed to operate his business while apparently ignoring zoning laws.

Jakubowski said Reliable appeared to be operating without a mandatory site plan. "Right now, he is in violation of the town code, and he's trying to rectify that" by seeking variances, Jakubowski said.

He added the company had complied with a 2003 Suffolk County District Court restraining order after the town charged the company with code violations.

In a memo to the zoning appeals board, assistant town planning director David Flynn said Reliable should be permitted to have no more than 10 trucks, three loaders, four containers, three trash bins and 50 cars on the site.

Fleischmann told the zoning appeals board the proposed restrictions were inadequate. "It sounds like a lot in one area," he said.

Resident Arthur Most said the view from his home worsens in autumn, when leaves fall from trees between his property and Reliable's. "You see everything," he said. "You see the glint of the windshields." The board has not scheduled a vote.

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