A Smithtown commercial real estate company’s application to expand its parking lot to a residential area off Route 111 is in jeopardy after city planners recommended against approval.
Zoning Appeals Board administrators have delayed a hearing for the claim until Jan. 24 at the request of an attorney for Island Associates Real Estate, 444 Rte. 111, to give the company time to review its designs.
“We think it’s a meritorious request, but we need to know if we can negotiate a reasonable settlement,” Timothy Mattimore, a lawyer representing a limited liability company linked to Island, told a board meeting. administration on October 25.
His request came after an Oct. 20 advisory report by planner Blaise Donadio concluded that the deviations from city code requested by the company were “substantial and could be detrimental to the community.”
Plans filed with the planning department called for Island to remove a stretch of wood that had for years separated its building from the houses to the west to make way for 66 parking spaces there and elsewhere on its site. The spaces would span 94 feet in a residential area, but be set back 28 feet from the western property line and 33 feet from the southern property line, with a 10-foot planted buffer. The company would need a special exception to city zoning that prohibits the parking of buildings in a residential zone as well as several waivers, including one that would reduce the required buffer zone. The zoning requires a buffer zone equal to the extension of the parking lot in the residential zone, which is 94 feet.
Mattimore did not respond to a request for comment. The island’s general manager, Roger Delisle, did not make himself available for an interview.
City planner Peter Hans told Newsday that planning officials had seen “lots of unused parking spaces” at the site in recent months. In the coming months, he said, members of the zoning appeal board will assess “if there really is this need” for parking and if alternative designs could provide more parking while better respecting city zoning.
In filings, company officials said the expansion was necessary to increase its existing 137 spaces and alleviate a parking shortage that sometimes forces workers or visitors to the building to park on neighborhood streets. “There will be a heavy plant screen added” and “lighting will be diverted from residences,” according to the documents.
But residents questioned the company’s commitments. Island “has set up so many [parking] spots right against our property, with cars idling, people talking, people smoking,” said Paula Klingelhoefer, a semi-retired school administrator who has lived north of the site on Fawn Place for 38 year.
She said she and her husband had spent thousands of dollars on evergreens to mask their property because of the parking lot lights installed by Island and because the plantings the company had installed around its land -” like a little bush” – didn’t provide much of an obstacle.
What was particularly infuriating, she said, was when a contractor on the island demolished a concrete wall around part of the land – at 7am on a recent Sunday morning. “He hasn’t been a good neighbor,” she said.
Another resident, Steve Matteo, who works in publishing and lives on Tanglewood Drive, said the woods to the west of the island building helped block out the almost daily rumble of a generator on the site and helped absorb rainwater that would otherwise flood homes in the area.
He said he wasn’t optimistic about the January hearing. “We feel like we’ve been taken for a ride – they’re not going to change their plans to accommodate us.”
Island Associates Real Estate Plans
Offers: 66 new parking spaces
Existing: 137 parking spaces
Source: Smithtown Planning Department documents