A proposal to revamp the design of Taco Bell in Commack is awaiting approval as Smithtown zoning board fears it could create traffic and parking problems.
The California-based chain has submitted plans to the Town of Smithtown to demolish its existing building and reconstruct a 2,639-square-foot restaurant along Jericho Turnpike that would seat 42 diners. It would be 129 square feet larger than its current space and no longer feature Pizza Hut, according to attorney Donald King.
King said Taco Bell is willing to undertake the nearly $2 million project to enhance its look and hopefully improve traffic flow to and from the restaurant. It seeks several variances to reduce its parking, move its entrances and increase the allowed number of signs.
However, Smithtown's Board of Zoning Appeals expressed concerns the new layout would do the opposite. Smithtown Planning Director Frank DeRubeis recommended denial of the application stating reducing parking from 38 to 31 space would not be adequate and the new entrances off the street could cause potential issues.
"Taco Bell knows what is best for Taco Bell," King said. "Taco wants the parking hard against the building. They didn’t want the customers walking across traffic flow to enter the restaurant."
King said approximately 70 percent of the restaurants business is done through its drive-through window, not sit-down customers, so the reduction in parking spaces will not be an issue.
The new design also seeks to take Taco Bell's "entrance only" driveway and convert it into a two-way driveway after conducting a survey that found roughly 40 percent of its customers were using it illegally as an exit.
Despite a recommended denial, Smithtown Board of Zoning Appeals did not make a decision on Taco Bell's plans for its Commack location. It has been tabled for future consideration.
King argued that Smithtown must allow the Taco Bell's proposed redesign as it recently approved a similar building in Nesconset.
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