Fitzpatrick Questions Safety of Commack Hess Plans

State assemblyman said granting Hess the 17 variances needed to build will start process to turning Jericho Turnpike into Hempstead Turnpike.


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. 

Pat October 12, 2012 at 01:02 PM
If this assemblyman was truly concerned with safety, he would be working with the state on the off ramp at the Sunken Meadow to make it 2 lanes as traffic is now backing up on one traffic lane of the SM to get off at this exit during rush hour.
Commack Resident October 12, 2012 at 02:00 PM
That isn't telling the whole story. This does: http://www.followthemoney.org/database/search.phtml?searchbox=gasoline+heaven Gasoline Heaven has donated money to Michael Fitzpatrick's election campaign in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2010. Total contribution is $850 in the time period. Just the facts...no commentary.
Kristie M October 12, 2012 at 03:16 PM
No one is concerned with safety on any of our roads. We always wait until one too many people die before acting on anything. People drive 50 mph down sidestreets past pedestrians and kids all the time. And these are their own neighbors they endanger. On main roads it's the norm for selfish, rushed people to ignore signs and lights. There is no enforcement anywhere. A gas station there just means taking Vets and Harned Rds to avoid the whole mess.
Mike October 12, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Hey Commack Resident, Hess lawyers have done their fair share of donating. Funny thing is, one of them has even donated more than once to Mike Fitzpatrick too. Your point is null and void.
Jeff October 12, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Good detective work. Now find LI Gasoline Retailer Assoc, Rudy Massa, etc.


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