Real estate developers have received the go ahead to build a new 6,500-square-foot restaurant in Commack.
P.J. Venture received approval from Town of Smithtown's Planning board Wednesday night to build a new restaurant, from the ground up, in the Cosentino Shopping Center off Crooked Hill Road and Henry Street in Commack. The proposal will now go before Smithtown Town Board.
The real estate developer has submitted plans to build a 6,500-square-foot restaurant within the existing parking lot of Crooked Hill, in front of Kohls, according to John Jacob.
"We figured by putting some real food in there, it would help keep traffic there," Jacobs said.
He would not give the potential restaurant's name, saying PJ Ventures is still in negotiations over the lease.
With approval of the plans, the developer has received a variance to reduce the number of required parking spaces from 2,832 spaces down to 2,708 spaces.
"At peak times, weekends and holidays this area was not in use, therefore the number of spaces provided will be sufficient for this site," said planning department officials.
However, Frank Imburgio of Dix Hills, said he's concerned about the current state of Henry Street given the shopping center's plans for and a new restaurant.
"I live in the area and pass by there. I can't believe you've done a site survey of Henry Street. The drainage there, when there's any kind of rain, it's underwater," Imburgio said.
Imburgio was also concerned about traffic backups to enter the shopping center given there are no left-hand turn signals at the lights and requested roadway improvements be made with the expansion.
Frank DeRubeis, Smithtown's Planning Director, said there are legal problems with the section of Henry Road behind the former Commack Cinemas as its ownership is in dispute. It was built by Commack Cinemas to serve as a back entrance to the theaters. Lowe's, the new owner of the shopping center, is reluctant to redo the entire street, according to DeRubeis, as their company's site plans for a new store have not yet been approved.
Jacob said PJ Venture has put its own money into installing 15 drainage pools on one side of the intersection.
Neither the Town of Smithtown or Suffolk County has taken possession of the road as it was constructed improperly, according to Jacobs. The roadway is made of parking lot quality asphalt, approximately 2-1/2 inches thick, as opposed to the 18-inch depth required.
"That roadway is a little bit better than what you have on your own driveway," Jacobs.
PJ Venture has made the offer to Suffolk County to take over care and maintenance of the roadway, if Lowe's and other surrounding business owners, would agree. Then the real estate developers would be responsible for repavement, snow removal, drainage and pothole maintenance.
"It's not a money problem. We know it will cost $1 million, but we'll pay it," Jacob said.
DeRubeis said the town has issues with Suffolk County in terms of making improvements to Crooked Hill Road as the site plans for Lowe's move forward. The planning director said he expected Lowe's site plans to be approved by December, with construction possible as early as spring 2013.