Planning board notes
Islip Town Hall

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Planning board notes

Story By: RICK CHALIFOUX
7/27/2017


ISLIP TOWN—At the latest Islip Town Planning Board meeting, the board voted to approve an application requesting a special permit along with a modification of covenants and restrictions in order to add an extra Avocado’s Mexican restaurant at a site located at 1360 Lakeland Avenue in Bohemia.

The applicant – Lakeland Plaza LLC (1360 Lakeland Avenue) – had previously been granted a change of zone from Residence AA to General Service T District on the 1.62-acre site back in 2014, allowing for two restaurants on 7,625 square feet of property. 

However, the usage of the property has since changed, with a 2,000-square-foot pizzeria and a 2,000-square-foot bagel shop currently operating onsite. Now, the applicant is requesting permission to include a 1,856-square-foot Mexican restaurant named Avocado’s – which has a current location in Bayport.

Bay Shore-based attorney Lisa Pace noted that the amount of square footage requested (5,756 square feet) actually amounts to an approximately 2,000-square-foot reduction from the previously approved application. She also stated that parking spaces have been added to the site as well.

“We have more than an abundance of landscaping, and we’ve complied with all of the town requests regarding the design of the building,” said Pace. “Across the street is mostly industrial and office space, and there are a lot of vacancies right now for office space.

“So the Avocado restaurant would be a perfect draw to bring in more office space,” added Pace. “There are mostly just delis in that area now, and a Mexican restaurant would be a real plus for that neighborhood.”

The client’s broker – John Pace Jr. of Pace Real Estate Services – said that advertisements to utilize the property for office space have been unsuccessful. 

“We’ve been trying to find some office tenants…but to no avail,” said Pace, who referred to the “glut” of office space in the surrounding area as a potential reason for the lack of response. “We’re not getting any inquiries about office space, but are getting some from different food establishments.”

The board previously reserved decision on the item at last month’s public hearing. 

“The covenants limit the property to two planning board special permits to prevent the building from becoming a de facto strip shopping center, which was contrary to planning efforts at the time of the original change of zone back in the 1990s,” said town planner Sean Colgan. “The applicant has repeatedly made claims that he has difficulty renting the spaces to non-restaurant or retail tenants, of which the latter is not permitted by the existing zoning.

“Planning staff responded that the change of zone and building construction was very recent and that the applicant should have attempted to rent to other permitted uses, such as medical, prior to making this application,” continued Colgan. “The board will have to weigh the desired character for this location and the area with the reported hardship given by the applicant. Tonight, the staff recommends that the board reserve decision to review the testimony and go over options with the applicant.”

This time around, Colgan noted that the board had since requested minutes from previous hearings on the property, as well as information regarding how much restaurant space was proposed originally as opposed to today.

“To summarize, the applicant had originally proposed 7,554 square feet of overall restaurant space – of which 2,995 square feet was basement space – along with a total of 66 seats,” said Colgan. “At that time, the board approved 2,000 square feet with 16 seats with the ability to apply for another special permit inclusive of the restaurant at a future date.”

Colgan stated that the applicant currently has permission for up to 4,000 square feet of restaurant space with 32 seats, with no basement in the building. Additional parking spaces had also been added, with 71 in total (10 of which are land-banked) and 38 percent of the parcel consisting of landscaping.

“Today, the applicant has requested for a total of 5,891 square feet of restaurant space, and 62 total seats – none of which would constitute basement space,” continued Colgan. “So overall, it is less than what was originally proposed, [but] it would exceed the number of special permits per the original set of covenants. So, should the board grant the application, the staff has modified the covenants.”

Ultimately, the board voted to unanimously approve the proposal.

The next Islip Town Planning Board meeting will take place on Thursday, Aug. 17 at 6:30 p.m.