Smithtown officials are asking developers to move quickly to transform a former, blighted lumberyard into apartments off Smithtown's Main Street.
Smithtown Town Board held a public hearing on North Fork Management & Maintenance's request for the town to remove an existing covenant on the former Nassau-Suffolk Lumber Yard property to build Downtown on Main, an apartment building and office space.
"We realize it's a blight and we also want to finishing something that's been hanging around for a long time. We are asking the board to help us," said Vincent Trimarco, an attorney representing North Fork Management.
The developer is looking to divide the property into two buildings – one 30 feet off of West Main Street that would be used for retail space on the first floor and apartments on the second and third floors, and the other building in the rear of the property between Planned Parenthood and the Assessor's Office that would be used for small offices and apartments.
In order to do so, North Fork Management has to get town's approval to lift a restriction requiring the back portion of the lot to only be used as a lumber yard of offices after a zone change in 1987.
Supervisor Patrick Vecchio asked the developer if they are sincere about the plan to build Downtown on Main, they could start by demolishing the existing "eyesore." The former lumberyard was condemned by town as unsafe in October 2012.
Vecchio expressed concern that if the zoning limitations on the property were lifted, that North Fork Management may turn around and sell the property.
Trimarco only said he didn't "know how to answer that."
North Fork Management has reached out to the property owners of the buildings on either side for the former lumberyard to inquire about purchasing them, expanding the area for potential apartments. Trimarco said as of this time, no solid plans have come out of the conversations.
Mark Mancini, president of the Greater Smithtown Chamber of Commerce, asked town officials to consider expediting for the permitting process for Downtown on Main.
If Downtown on Main is built, Smithtown Planning Director Frank DeRubeis said, the current plans on file with the town call for it to be workforce housing, affordable for individuals making 130 percent of the median salary. The median annual salary in the Town of Smithtown is $65,000 for a single individual, $140,000 for a family of four, according to DeRubeis.