Assembly Michael Fitzpatrick has called into question the safety of the plans for a Commack Hess.
Fitzpatrick, R-St. James, appealed to Smithtown's Board of Zoning Appeals not to grant Hess the 17 variances requested to move forward with its plans to build a 12-pump filling station and Hess Express on the corner of Jericho Turnpike and Harned Road. He was the only elected official to speak alongside concerned residents.
"If you look at a site like this, once a four-pump filling station now replaced with a 12-pump filling station and a convenience store - a very heavy use-, you will increase the odds of a serious accident or worse," Fitzpatrick said.
The assemblyman said he came out of concern for future safety of Route 25A. As a member of New York State Legislature, Fitzpatrick said he has been working with New York State Department of Transportation to improve safety along Jericho Turnpike.
Fitzpatrick is worried the Hess station might increase the frequency of accidents, given its size and proposed layout.
Gene DiNicola, a Sayville-based attorney representing Hess, said the corporation had received permission from the DOT to create two curb-cuts on Jericho Turnpike, to create a right-turn in, right-turn out driveway. One of the corporation's 17 variance requests seeks permission to place this driveway 50 feet west of the five-way Jericho Turnpike and Harned Road intersection, less than the 75 feet required under Smithtown town code.
"I find it hard to believe the DOT is okay with these curb cuts, that New York State DOT would be in favor of reducing the amount of space between the intersection and curb cuts, which is one of the variances," Fitzpatrick said.
The assemblyman also expressed concern if the Smithtown Board of Zoning Appeals approved 17 variances for Hess, what precedent it could set for the future businesses looking to move into the Town of Smithtown.
"What will happen is it will set a precedent that every other applicant after this, if you approve these 16 variances, will come in and ask for. They will try to go to the limit as well. You will begin the process of turning Jericho Turnpike into the next Hempstead Turnpike," Fitzpatrick said.
As an elected official, he was quick to emphasize that Hess is welcome to build more stations in town - but he does not approve of the location.
As many residents had suggested Tuesday night, there are several nearby abandoned or vacant gas station in close proximity to the Jericho Turnpike and Harned Road intersection, including the former Gulf on the corner of Harned Road and Veterans Memorial Highway that is approximately 0.03 miles south.
"This is the wrong location for such an intense use," Fitzpatrick said.