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Route 347

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The space in Smithtown where Chick-fil-A wants to establish a new branch. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Chick-fil-A is finally coming to Hauppauge, though the last store operating where the corporate company intends to build doesn’t see much of a reason to celebrate.

“We knew it was going to happen, but of course it’s very sad because we’ve been there for over 30 years,” said Donna Ahr, matriarch of the family-run Bagel Gallery Inc., locally known as Hot Bagels in Hauppauge and Smithtown.

The bagel shop is the last store that remains open in the doomed shopping plaza.

We knew it was going to happen, but of course it’s very sad because we’ve been there for over 30 years.”

— Donna Ahr

The Town of Smithtown town council conditionally approved the site plan for the restaurant chain to demolish the existing 15,743-square-foot  shopping center at the corner of Route 347 and Route 111 in Hauppauge to make room for a 4,650-square-foot counter-service restaurant.

The round-the-clock open bagel shop has endured in that location since 1980, owned and operated by the Ahr family since 1985. In 2016, local residents got wind that Chick-fil-A was intending to tear down the shopping center where Hot Bagels was located to put in one of its restaurants. In the months that followed, close to 5,000 people signed a Change.org petition to try and keep Hot Bagels around. Though the fast-food chain won its petition for a zoning change two years ago to create a drive-thru, the restaurant’s site plans were only approved this month.

“I got a year and half more out of it than I originally thought I would, so God is good,” Ahr said.

The location houses two shopping centers, both of which are independently owned. Those stores in the building directly opposite the impending Chick-fil-A fear what could happen once construction begins.

It’s going to kill my business, or at least hurt my business with all the construction going on.”

— Tony Barbato

“It’s going to kill my business, or at least hurt my business with all the construction going on,” said Tony Barbato, the owner of Ciro’s Pizza located at 550 Route 347. “I think the chicken shop coming in is the stupidest thing ever. Everybody in that shopping center was pretty successful, but then they threw everybody out so they could send more money to [a national corporation] instead of keeping it local.”

In February 2018, the Ahr family opened up a second location along Hauppauge Road in Smithtown, a little less than two miles from their  original storefront. Even though Ahr and her family appreciate that many of their loyal customers will still be sticking around, their old location is where the family holds many of their fondest memories.

“It will be a very sad thing when the store goes because as much as people love the new location its still not the store that we all grew up in; my customers, me, my kids, my customers kids,” she said.

The approved Chick-fil-A site plans call for a reconfiguration of the parking lot surrounding both current shopping centers to allow for drive- thru access and additional spaces.

“It will be a very sad thing when the store goes because as much as people love the new location its still not the store that we all grew up in.” 

— Donna Ahr

Al Amato, founder of the Garden City-based Amato Law Group, PLLC, who is representing Chick-fil-A, attended the Sept. 20 meeting and said both locations would provide an adequate amount of parking individually, and that the new property would not block access to the other shopping center. Neither Amato nor a representative of Chick-fil-A were available to say when demolition on the old structure and construction of the new restaurant will begin.

In the meantime, Bagel Gallery is the last store in that shopping center that remains open. Ahr said she has been notified a tentative date to move out is Nov.10. She said she hopes to host a going away party for their old shop before they have to close for good.

“When I do have the exact date I want to do [something] special,” Ahr said. “They will tear it down in front of our eyes, and we’re all going to cry.”

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Browns Road homeowner Linda Costa speaks out at the Sept. 20 Smithtown Town Board meeting. Photo by Kyle Barr

Nesconset residents fear construction of a proposed Dunkin’ Donuts on Route 347 could disrupt their neighborhood.

A small group of Nesconset residents spoke out against developer Browns & 347, LLC who has requested a change of zone to the 2.5-acre property on the corner of Route 347 and Browns Road from R-15 Residential Single Family to Whole Sale Service Industry at a Smithtown Town board meeting Sept. 20.

The developer has proposed plans to construct a 12,450-square-foot, two-story office building and a Dunkin’ Donuts on the wooded lot, according to attorney Vincent Trimarco Sr.

The official notice posted regarding the rezoning on the corner of Route 347 and Browns Road in Nesconset. Photo by Kyle Barr

Nesconset residents are decrying the plans saying it will negatively affect property values and increase traffic near Sprofera Park. For Browns Road resident Linda Costa, whose home is adjacent to the proposed project, the developer’s plans are particularly alarming.

The plans for the proposed project will create additional parking spaces on two sides of
her property.

“Now your adding more parking behind my house — I have parking next to my house and across the street from my house,” Costa said. “I feel like I’m living in a parking lot.”

Costa and other residents fear a zone change would hurt their ability to sell their homes in the future, especially if they wished to break away from this new commercial development.

“I would probably try to sell my home before the development goes through, but I would have to be completely honest with that person beforehand that the zoning changed,” Costa said. “It would be much harder to sell.”

The proposed development was previously denied by the town’s planning board in May 2017, due to traffic complaints caused by an entranceway off Browns Road, according to Trimarco. The new site plan would limit access to two driveways on Route 347, and include a 30-foot barrier of greenery along Browns Road to disguise the property from the residential street.

In addition, the applicants have agreed to provide 22 parking spaces along the eastern end of the property to the town for municipal purposes and access to Sprofera Park.

Maureen O’Connor, who lives across from the proposed project, said she feared traffic would increase if cars wanted to come down Browns Road to get to the new Dunkin’ Donuts. The problem is exacerbated with kids crossing the street to get to Sprofera Park and a school bus stop that is situated along Browns Road.

Attorney Vincent Trimarco explains the developers plans for a Dunkin Donuts and office building in Nesconset. Photo by Kyle Barr

“The traffic pattern already around this busy intersection would not only increase, but would increase the disruption in the flow of traffic as cars attempt to enter or exit onto this business on [Route] 347,” O’Connor said.

When residents questioned why developers wouldn’t create more single-family homes on the site, Trimarco said having more homes connected to Browns Road would result in more traffic. He also said that since the development will be shielded from view by that greenery it shouldn’t affect property values.

“We would have to have access through Browns Road, and you would have the same problem the neighbors are concerned about,” Trimarco said.

Nesconset resident Salvatore Vitale, a homeowner on Michael Place overlooking the park, said he fears a new parking lot and a Dunkin’ Donuts could lead to more loitering and vagrancy.

“Every few nights there’s a police car parked [in the Sprofera Park parking lot] to make sure there’s no transients or loitering,” Vitale said. “Now you put a building there, and those parking areas will need three police cars every night.

Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) did not give a date as to when the town will make a decision.

A rendering of the approved plan for a Tesla showroom on Route 347 in Nesconset. Image from Smithtown Planning Department

The Tesla Inc. showroom on Route 347 in Nesconset will offer students a chance to delve into the nuts and bolts of how the luxury electric cars work.

The planned $700,000 renovation to the former Sixth Avenue Electronics shopping center at the corner of Route 347 and Hillside Avenue for a new Tesla dealership will initially work as a showroom, a service center as well as an educational and experimental center in an ongoing partnership with Farmingdale State College, according to Mohamad Zoghi, the acting chair of the automotive technology department at Farmingdale State College.

“We are working with Tesla recruiters,” Zoghi said. “They recruit based on the demand of technicians at their locations. So, once there is availability at Nesconset location, [we will have interns there.]’’

“We are working with Tesla recruiters… They recruit based on the demand of technicians at their locations.”

–Mohamad Zoghi

The showroom would be the eighth Tesla-owned facility to open in New York. Normally, New York State law requires all car manufacturers to sell their vehicles through franchises. However, Tesla struck a deal with the state to permit it to operate up to five of its own dealerships.

There is pending legislation in both the state Senate and Assembly that would allow Tesla to open an additional 15 dealerships within the state as long as five of the new locations are in upstate New York. Both bills are currently stuck in committee.

In the meantime, Tesla will use this space for its continued educational partnership with Farmingdale students that was first announced in August 2017. Based on the needs set by Tesla, students in the two-year and four-year automotive management programs can potentially obtain an internship working on Tesla’s electric vehicles and other products.

Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) said the renovations will give life to a long blighted area off of Route 347.

“They were given permission to go inside and clean up that building, and now that they have their site plan they can go in and start the interior renovation and the exterior facade renovation,” Wehrheim said. “It’s cleaning up a real blighted section of that area.”

It’s cleaning up a real blighted section of that area.”

– Ed Wehrheim

The plans call for a more than 40,500-square-foot showroom with an attached service center in the renovated footprint of the old electronics store. The exterior lot would be relined to provide parking space for more than 300 cars in Tesla’s inventory as well as spots for potential customer use.

The company behind the Tesla property development 1000 Nesconset LLC had its site plan finally approved at the July 17 Smithtown town board meeting. The company filed for a change of zone application for the property to transition from commercial business and neighborhood business to wholesale industrial in order to accommodate the outdoor storage a car dealership needs. Attorney Vincent Trimarco Sr., who is representing the development company, said that zoning on the property has already been changed and construction is close to beginning.

“It’s imminent now that they’re going to start,” Trimarco said.

Other Tesla-owned locations on Long Island include a display gallery inside Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station and a dealership in East Hampton.

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John Scrofani Jr. Photo from SCPD

Suffolk County police arrested a Bohemia man Jan. 21 for allegedly robbing TD Bank in Smithtown.

John Scrofani Jr. entered TD Bank at 714 Route 347 at 10:57 a.m. Sunday and presented a note to a teller demanding cash. The teller complied and Scrofani Jr. fled. Fourth Precinct officers responded and located him in a vehicle on Route 347 at Brooksite Drive in Smithtown a short time later.

Major Case Unit detectives charged Scrofani Jr., 31, with third-degree robbery. He was  held overnight at the 4th Precinct and arraigned on Jan. 22 at First District Court in Central Islip.

File photo

A Rocky Point man was ejected from his vehicle as a result of a crash in Port Jefferson Station Feb. 22 and transported to Stony Brook Hospital for treatment of serious injuries, according to Suffolk County Police. Sixth Squad detectives are investigating the two-vehicle crash.

Brian Carter was driving a 1975 Jeep westbound on Route 347 when he attempted to make a left turn onto Crystal Brook Hollow Road and his vehicle was struck by an eastbound 2009 Chevrolet at about 8:20 p.m.

Carter, 25, of Rocky Point, was ejected from the vehicle and was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of serious injuries. The driver of the Chevrolet, Zachary Pisoni, 24, of Medford, was not injured.

Both vehicles were impounded for safety checks and the investigation is continuing. Detectives are asking anyone with information on this crash to call the 6th Squad at 631-854-8652.

File photo

Suffolk County Police Fourth Squad Detectives are investigating a crash that killed a pedestrian in Nesconset Sept. 13.

Police said Nesconset resident James Zullo was crossing east on Route 347 from the center median when he was struck by a 2002 Subaru, driven by Andrea Ingrassia, a Mount Sinai resident, in the right lane at approximately 4:25 p.m.

Ingrassia, 61, stayed at the scene and was not injured. Zullo, 54, was transported by Centereach Rescue to Stony Brook University Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The vehicle was impounded for a safety check. The investigation is ongoing.

Transportation workers set up a sign letting travelers know of road changes. Photo from NYS Department of Transportation

Motorists who travel on Route 347 between Terry Road and Gibbs Pond Road should expect changes, as construction is set to begin Aug. 1

According to the New York State Department of Transportation, travel lanes will be reduced and night closures will start so that construction can begin as part of the Route 347 Safety, Mobility and Environmental Improvement Project. The $36.2 million plan is meant to improve motorists’ safety and mobility and transform the roadway into a modified boulevard and suburban greenway for 15 miles through the towns of Smithtown, Islip and Brookhaven.

According to the department, east and westbound travel lanes will be shifted toward the center median to accommodate work on the north and south sides of the roadway.  In addition, the current median opening at Garfield Court between Lake Avenue and Gibbs Pond Road, and the opening at the Smithtown Highway Department west of Southern Boulevard will both be permanently closed for the safety of motorists.

Due to the lane shifts, intermittent single-lane closures will be in effect Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.  Work requiring more than a single-lane closure in each direction will take place at night between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., Monday through Friday nights, weather permitting.

The department said in a statement that motorists will be warned in advance of the closings via electronic road signs but should plan to take alternate routes to avoid delays.

For real-time travel information motorists should call 511 or visit New York’s official traffic and travel information website: www.511NY.org.

File photo.

A pedestrian was killed on Nesconset Highway on Wednesday night while trying to cross the busy roadway.

The Suffolk County Police Department said the man was crossing from the median to the north side of Route 347 at the intersection with Browns Road in Nesconset at the time of the crash. A 2000 Jeep Cherokee, which had been going west on the road, crashed into the pedestrian shortly after 9 p.m.

Police did not identify the man, who was pronounced dead at Stony Brook University Hospital, pending notification of his family.

The Jeep’s driver, a 23-year-old Bay Shore man, was not hurt, police said. That vehicle was impounded for a safety check.

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File photo.

A Hauppauge woman was arrested for drunk driving early Tuesday morning after her car collided with a county vehicle, injuring both her and the other driver.

The Suffolk County Police Department said Michael Maxwell, a district attorney investigator, was driving a county-owned 2008 Ford Explorer east on Route 347 shortly after 1 a.m. when he collided with a 2004 Toyota Sequoia that had been going south on Mount Pleasant Road. After crashing with the Ford, the Toyota struck a building on Mount Pleasant.

Police did not specify which driver caused the crash.

Maxwell, 52, was pinned inside the Ford, police said, and Emergency Services Section officers extricated him. Both he and the Toyota’s driver, 20-year-old Amanda Dellegar, were treated for non-life-threatening injuries at Stony Brook University Hospital.

Police arrested Dellegar and charged her with driving while intoxicated.

Attorney information for the defendant was not immediately available. Police said she would be arraigned at a later date.

Anyone with information about the crash is asked to call the SCPD’s Vehicular Crime Unit detectives at 631-852-6555.

A car crashed into a guardrail on Route 347 and caught fire early Saturday morning, killing the elderly woman inside.

The Suffolk County Police Department said the woman, a 77-year-old Port Jefferson Station resident, had been driving west in a 2006 Chrysler 300 on the road, just past Old Town Road, at about 5 a.m. when she hit the guardrail.

The woman, whom police did not identify, was pronounced dead at the scene, but it was not immediately clear whether she died in the crash or the ensuing fire.

Police impounded her car for a safety check.

Detectives from the SCPD’s 6th Squad are investigating the East Setauket single-car crash. Anyone with information is asked to call them at 631-854-8652.

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