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Smithtown OKs Bahama Breeze to Build, Drawing Resident's Ire

Caribbean-inspired chain gets approval to build restaurant in Smith Haven Mall Plaza, on corner of Alexander Ave and Middle Country Road.

 

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.

SB Otter October 03, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Yum! - can't wait for the steel drum band, looks like a cool place. Mall needs some dedicated turning lanes - traffic around the holidays is a pain.
Argile October 04, 2012 at 01:18 AM
Since it's on the mall property and the area is already developed it sounds like a good location. Better than the proposed Sonic location. Don't know what the residents are whining about. Didn't hear any complaining when the Cheezecake Factory opened up. It is another restaurant but at least it's not another unneeded fast food burgerslop joint.
Nesconset Dude October 04, 2012 at 02:26 AM
Agreed. Plus, was there really a strong opposition to this? Between Sonic and the garden apartments proposed for Lake Ave. in Nesconset, I've never seen such a negative response from the community, and those fights are not over. Bahama Breeze? Where was everyone to fight that? It's on mall grounds where there is always tons of available parking. In other words, open space prime for 'something'. Truthfully, I think Caribbean food sucks - I've been to the real thing. I don't even think such an establishment will make it 3 years, but at least it's a more proper location for this sort of proposal than some others seen in recent months.
LivingSmall October 04, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Nesconset Dude -- If the establishment doesn't make it, that's one more vacant building in the Town of Smithtown. Enough already. Isn't there a vacant chain restaurant building on the opposite side of 25 already? Sonic's plan is poorly situated -- I visited the Sonic in Deer Park to better understand the concerns of the residents in Smithtown, Music plays constantly, car noises, kids talking loud over their cars, head lights beaming, etc. -- this is not the type of restaurant which should be backing up to residential properties. Across the street in the Bahama Breeze location would be much better. The property owner who seeks to build the garden apartments is looking to cut his losses at the expense of the residents in the private homes surrounding the land. The developer bought high, can't make a killing selling overpriced McMansions in this economy, so he is doing the next most profitable thing -- which in turn will decrease the property values of the homes adjacent to it. There are eyesore properties along 347 -- which also happens to be along a bus route (think green, people) build the garden apartments there. It's a win-win. No more eyesore, reasonable priced, new apartments for young people starting out, and easy access to the bus routes.
Nesconset Dude October 04, 2012 at 02:23 PM
@LivingSmall - I totally agree with you on every single point you made. I was only saying that if you have to build this thing, the proposed location in the mall parking lot is relatively ideal compared to knocking down more wooded areas or in someone's backyard. The town approved it, but Lake Grove may have something else to say about this and it could very well be challenged. I believe there's a split jurisdiction on the Smithhaven Mall.
Dave M. October 04, 2012 at 07:14 PM
The Deer Park Sonic is being cited by the opposition as a horror story, with traffic backed up down the street. In fact, it WAS like that when it first opened. But the novelty wore off. I go past there almost every day at lunch time and now I rarely see the parking lot more than half full. So I doubt it's going to adversely affect anyone's lifestyle except in the very short-term.
Zeke October 04, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Please do not let this go through. Some may not see this as a big deal but it really is . This is how a neighborhood is destroyed, first you commercialize it then add bus stops and rentals and before you can stop it its too late. Look what's happening to the town of Huntington and Babylon right now . Please let's keep our town nice it really is the last frontier
littleShamrock October 06, 2012 at 02:56 PM
That area will not only be congested but that parking lot has too many cling ons already that was once nice, will just become, one day a huge box. There are soo many other places it can go ... Good luck to the restaurant whatever happens.
linda monte October 28, 2012 at 09:00 PM
the parking and food court area is far too small to accomodate shoppers, especially during holiday season. more than anything, parking additions are much needed. just try to park in nov and especially dec.
RC November 15, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Bahama Breeze and PF Changs are being built ? Is this correct?

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