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Proposed Outdoor Storage Facility Opens Up 'Floodgate' of Zoning Issues

Civic associations take united stand against storage facility on Old Northport Road; calls for town board to step in.

Standing at left, Kings Park landowner Mike Cox and attorney Vincent Trimarco share the proposed plan with Kings Park Civic Association last week. (Photo Credit: Sara Walsh).
Standing at left, Kings Park landowner Mike Cox and attorney Vincent Trimarco share the proposed plan with Kings Park Civic Association last week. (Photo Credit: Sara Walsh).
Proposed plans to build an outdoor storage facility in Kings Park have civic associations and business owners calling for Smithtown Town Board to step in and, once and for all, lay out a solution to zoning issues. 

Mobile Mini, located on Jericho Turnpike in Commack, has proposed plans to lease 4-acres of property from Kings Park landowner Mike Cox and relocate to Old Northport Road to store up to 600 containers. However, under Smithtown Town zoning code, outdoor storage is not permitted on light industrial, only in heavy industry land.

In order to operate on the light industrial-zoned land, Mobile Mini went before Smithtown Board of Zoning Appeals Tuesday night seeking several exceptions to the zoning laws, including a special exception permit for a trucking station, a use variance to allow outdoor storage on light industrial zoning, two interpretations of code and 12 other variances. 

Civic association leaders, area task forces and Commack School District representatives stood united in their opposition to the proposed facility, expressing their concerns about the impact of trucking and what standards it could set. 

The Commack Civic Association has been fighting to ban truck traffic on Townline Road for years, and residents worry that the addition of the outdoor storage facility may only make matters worse.

Debbie Virga, a spokewoman for Commack School District, said the schools are against the proposed outdoor storage facility as it could mean more trucks traveling Townline Road, placing their students at risk. 

"The real issue here is whether the decision should be made by this board or the town board to address the zoning on a broad basis," said Fred Eisenbud, Smithtown resident and attorney representing Townline Road Association. "It’s a terrible precedent to have a change in the [light industrial] prohibition against outdoor storage through this process." 

Attorney Vincent Trimarco, representing Mobile Mini, admitted ,"there’s outdoor storage all around , whether it's legal or not." He argued outdoor storage is essential to have successful service business in town. 

Kings Park Civic Association and the Old Northport Road-Old Lawrence Road Taskforce have been involved in a lengthy battle against illegal businesses not in compliance with the town's zoning codes. Both fear if this application is granted, others could seek similar route to legalize their operations which create heavy truck traffic on local roads, noise, odors and community issues.

"The use variance for outdoor storage in light industry will set a precedent that will negatively impact area and could redefine the light industry category," said Sean Lehmann, president of Kings Park Civic Association. "It doesn’t matter if another property owner is utilizing outdoor storage, it is illegal." 

Toby Carlson, owner of Carlson Associates in Kings Park, stepped up to support Cox and Mobile Mini's proposal stating the outdoor storage facility would be better than what's on the property now.

Carlson said also many Kings Park businesses rely on outdoor storage to operate, that there is a need for it in Smithtown. 

"The outdoor storage issues on Old Northport Road have been there for a long time. Whether by BZA or the town board, it needs to be resolve whether it's okay or not, " he said. 

pbug56 January 16, 2014 at 04:10 PM
Why would any government even consider making Town Line Road even more dangerous for anyone, let alone students?
Gigi January 17, 2014 at 07:45 AM
The Town needs to take an active role in penalizing the businesses that are operating illegally in the area. If the businesses refuse to get in compliance with their zoning they should be shut down not rewarded!

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