A new Caribbean-inspired restaurant has the green light to begin building a new location in the Smith Haven Mall Plaza.
But it may not get a warm welcome from local residents.
Smithtown Town Board voted unanimously to approve site plans for N & D Restaurants to build a new Bahama Breeze restaurant, from the ground up, on the corner of Middle Country Road and Alexander Avenue in the Smith Haven Mall Plaza.
Bahama Breeze is a chain of casual restaurants serving up Caribbean-inspired food ranging from seafood to chicken and steak, according to Darden Restaurants' website, who created the Bahama Breeze brand. The first Bahama Breeze opened in 1996 in Orlando.
The proposed plans outline a 8,780-square-foot restaurant with a large outdoor dining area to be built near Dick's Sporting Goods store and California Pizza Kitchen. The developers are seeking a zoning variance from Smithtown officials to host outdoor entertainment and put a roof over the outdoor dining area.
When finshed, it will become the first Bahama Breeze restaurant in the New York area.
Nesconset resident Camille Johnson, a local resident for 50 years, asked Smithtown Town Board members to reconsider their decision.
"I am especially concerned with the sudden construction all of all these restaurants in the Smithtown mall area. I think the planning board, board of zoning and, from what I’ve seen on government access channel, the Town Board, are rushing to construct these businesses without taking into considering the effect it would have on our community," Johnson said.
In addition to the Bahama Breeze, Smithtown town officials have pending applications for a P.F. Chang's to be build inside the mall and Sonic site plans, which developers hope to build directly across the street.
There has been vocal opposition to Sonic's plans from area residents at several town meetings. The Nesconset Taxpayers Associations has blasted the Sonic proposal as a "poor location for a drive-in service."
As a Smith Street homeowner, Johnson said many use her road as an access to the Smith Haven Mall. She has seen traffic on her street significantly increase with recent additions to the mall.
"I have doubts about safety of the roads being able to handle the amount of traffic.I have concerns for children who live in the neighborhoods who cannot play in front of their houses," she said.
Frank DeRubeis, Smithtown's Planning Director, said the town has a site plan review process specifically designed for these large sites that mandate two public hearings. Bahama Breeze also faced an additional public hearing before the Board of Zoning Appeals as it requested a variance for outdoor seating and entertainment.
Bahama Breeze's developers still need to receive permission from the Village of Lake Grove to access their sewer treatment plant before moving forward with starting construction.