Smithtown Town officials have taken one more step closer to a potential resolution in the conflict between Insignia Steakhouse owners and local residents.
Smithtown Town Board voted unanimously at their Aug. 14 meeting that dropping the restrictive covenants placed on the Insignia Steakhouse's property, a 100-foot required buffer be maintained between its nearest residential neighbors, would have no negative impact on the environment.
This negative SEQRA declaration allows the town council and Smithtown's Board of Zoning Appeals to further consider the new parking lot plans that are on the table.
Local residents first voiced issues with Insignia Steakhouse in March, claiming The restaurant’s expansion has generated noise and flooding concerns within her community.
I am throwing myself at your mercy. Help us preserve our quality of life. We want to be good neighbors, but we don’t want the cars parking underneath our windows," said Laraine Rossi of Smithtown at the Mar. 6 town board meeting.
Frank DeRubeis, Smithtown's Planning Director, confirmed the gravel parking lot was not on Insignia's original building plans and was constructed without necessary permits.
The impromptu gravel parking lot broke a restrictive covenant placed on the land by Smithtown town officials when granting Insignia's owners permission to construct the restaurant. The town had stipulated that owners, the Scotto Brothers, leave a 100-foot gap, 50 feet of buffer and 50 feet of easement, between the restaurant and neighboring residential properties when approving the building plans.
The gravel parking lot is closer than 100-feet to the residential homes.
The town board's ruling on Aug. 14 states that removing the 100-foot buffer restriction would not cause any negative environmental impact on the immediate properties.
This clears the way for Town of Smithtown engineers have drawn up a parking lot design that would increase Insignia's parking from 122 to 237 spaces, while reducing the distance to residential homes from 100 to 58-feet.
Insignia's owners have submittedthat include a 80-foot buffer with a earthen berm that varies from roughly 50-feet wide and narrows towards Mount Pleasant Road. Their proposed expansion would add 79 parking stall along the back of the restaurant's property, double stacked, in what is commonly referred to as valet-style parking.
The restaurant owners have removed the proposed stockade fence that was included in its first set of plans. However, the owners also noted their intention to expand its septic area by 50 percent.
These revised parking plans are still awaiting approval from Smithtown's Board of Zoning Appeals and Smithtown Town Board. Then the site plans would need to be formally approved by the Building Department.