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Residents: Insignia Parking Too Close For Comfort

Restaurant owners file application to extend parking amidst resident concerns about noise and groundwater flooding issues.

Residents are calling on Smithtown officials to stop the region's new and posh from moving closer to their homes.

Laraine Rossi, of Brilner Drive in Smithtown, said the owners of Insignia Steakhouse have plowed over a 50-foot section of grass to illegally create a gravel parking lot for its valet services. The restaurant’s expansion has generated noise and flooding concerns within her community.

“I am throwing myself at your mercy. Help us preserve our quality of life. We want to be good neighbors, but we don’t want the cars parking underneath our windows,” Laraine said at Tuesday’s board meeting.

Laraine said she’s concerned because the gravel parking lot is generating a lot of noise as the restaurants patrons leave late at night, waking residents. She claimed neighbors with bedrooms in the back of their houses also have noise issues from the club atmosphere.

Meanwhile, her husband Donald, said he’s concerned the additional parking area would cause ground water issues, leading to flooded basements - an issue he’s faced before.

“My basement used to flood until last year when they cleared everything out of the stream. But now they’ve graded it straight again,” Donald said. “We are going to be right back where we started out.”

 The land that Insignia Steakhouse has used to build the makeshift parking lot is recognized by the town as environmentally sensitive land, with a groundwater table less than 10 feet below the surface.

Frank DeRubeis, Smithtown’s planning director, said the restaurant owners have received a summons for building the additional gravel parking lot without the necessary permits. The town had stipulated that owners Scotto Brothers leave a 100-foot gap, 50 feet of buffer and 50 feet of easement, between the restaurant and neighboring residential properties when approving the building plans.

 “One of the neighbors kept calling me and I kept saying, ‘I know they are building a parking lot in the back. That’s legal,'” DeRubeis said. “Finally I said ‘Look, I’ll go out to the site and take a look.’ I drive by and oh my god, there’s a parking lot.’ He was right, I was wrong.”

After receiving the summons, Insignia Steakhouse’s owners have filed an application for an area variance to expand the parking lot and reduce the buffer from 100 feet to 50 feet. It would increase the restaurants parking beyond what is required under town code.

Insignia Steakhouse’s owners did not immediately return calls for comment.

New York State environmental officials have ruled that the variance request would have no effect on the environment.

However, it's not clear whether the variance would conflict with the town’s , defined as any establishment with regular dancing to music or live entertainment that services alcoholic drinks.

The restaurant’s request for a variance to make its parking lot permanent will go before Smithtown Town Board at 7 p.m. on March 22 at the Eugene Cannataro Senior Citizen Center.

ru$ty March 08, 2012 at 11:14 AM
Give Insignia a year and the parking lot will be empty again.
David March 08, 2012 at 02:01 PM
That's "Brilner Driver" with an r.
We Heart Long Island March 08, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Many experts predicted it will fail as soon as it opens. I read it on the Patch.
Candyee March 08, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Good luck to all of you with complaints...
Moore or less March 08, 2012 at 06:39 PM
I am sympathetic to the environmental and quality of life issues related to Insignia's gravel parking lot extension; I am also concerned that the restaurant's policy of having their employees park in the Meat Farms parking lot which is diagonally across the intersection of Mt Pleasant Rd and Rte 347 is very dangerous to the employees' life and limb. This intersection is horrid for pedestrians in daytime and more so in the evenings and late nights when the employees are parking or retrieving their cars. If Insignia doesn't care about the safety of its employees, how on earth do you expect them to give a damn about the surrounding neighborhoods' environmental and quality of life concerns? Waiting for this place to fade away...the sooner the better
jozee March 08, 2012 at 07:18 PM
a little too late now isnt it??? should have been concerns BEFORE it opened..... i dont know who can afford to go there, i heard its extremely expensive, and the place is always packed, recession where?
Rainpatter March 08, 2012 at 07:47 PM
The respectful show Mr. Scotto made at town meetings now seems to be insincere in view of the restaurant's actions.
Candyee March 08, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Many young adults there to drink.
Candyee March 08, 2012 at 11:40 PM
I was told by some that it is common to have a liquor bill of $300. Drinks are $15 and up. Wine is $100 and up per bottle. The owner of Meat Farms shopping center is ok with Insignia 's employees parking there? Just wondering . When I had a business in a strip mall, the owner would not let anyone park there .Had a security company patrol .
Candyee March 09, 2012 at 04:47 PM
You are at it again , Anonymous , harassing me , What is your problem? I am going to Insignia in a few days and have a "soup to nuts" dinner . Since you know it all , tell us about your experience there. Time to stop hiding behind your computer and tell us who you really are . Do you get off harassing me ( and others) .? I can't wait to read you answer. Have a wonderful day!
Candyee March 09, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Oh yes there is. Why does it bother you so much ? I can t make a 1st hand comment , I have not been there nor does the parking effect me . I am within my rights to say what I want.. It 's not hurting ,harrassing or bullying anyone as your direct comments to me are . You hide behind "anonymous" , Lets us know who you are, It's easy to "be a big man /women" behind a computer screen . Look back on your comments on various different posts. "Let's call a spade a spade" . You are a bully , Again , I cannot wait to see your response.
Mike March 10, 2012 at 04:07 PM
And exactly how does this create a flooding concern its a GRAVEL parking lot!!!!!! Stop the NIMBY garbage, you live near 347, adjacent to a COMMERCIAL ZONE, that is the negative to living there, as long as they adhear to proper zoning buffers laid down by the town, get off their backs
Mike March 10, 2012 at 04:11 PM
I was there the other night, yes its expensive, but it draws an affluent clientel, its hard to believe that we are in a recession but good for them. It was the best service and food I have had in a long long time, its a special treat. I wish them luck, they are doing a GREAT JOB bringing such a high level restaurant to the area.
VT March 12, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Are you aware this property was farmed till the mid 8o's . Part of Yellow Top Farms .There are homeowners live behind there long before it was rezoned commercial ,still farms.Are you also aware of the major flooding and high water table in area? Many have this problem .Any regrading would have an impact on there basements and propery flooding and would have to be approved by the town. I am assuming you are not aware of this ongoing issue which has gotten worse with the buildinn over the yrs. You can call the town or John M Kennedy for info on the water problem that effects 5000 plus homes . There is a creek a little east not far from restaurant , across from Hidden Ponds. Have you ever wondered how Hidden Ponds got its name ? It also was farm till 85-86. The tractors used to cross rt347 to farm both side and and where Friendlys is . Have you noticed that Friendlys and homes behind it are built up higher?
Mike March 12, 2012 at 04:57 PM
I live within a block, I pump water out of my basement as recent as last summer. A GRAVEL parking area will NOT stop water from permiating the ground as is has all along. I KNOW that there is a high water table, I also know that the soil can be non permiable as it has a high clay content and water will sit on the top. I have been to the meetings. If this were an ASPHALT parking area, that was funneling water someplace I might agree that it could and I say could contribute but a gravel parking lot will not. It is not like they are putting in foundations, cellpools, etc that may or could affect the underground water or streams as they say the Guinta's shopping center did. I understand the buffer issue, that cars will be closer to residential, but there is still a buffer but I disagree that this extended GRAVEL parking will create any problems with the area drainage, water table or flooding, that is reaching for straws, next you will tell me that the parking lot is going to infringe on a purple stopped turtle. Development is good. Living next to a commercial zone means you must deal with changes, road widening, noise, businesses, etc. But to throw up bogus excuses as a defense that are unsupportable, to maintain a wider buffer to me needs to be kept in check.
VT March 12, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Thanks for your response , Mike. As I understand it's more of a noise/quality of life issue more then a water issue . Yes, I also have a water problem, but I live a distance away , not effected by this issue. We will see how this plays out with the town .
Mike March 12, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Well the good thing is that this restaurant is only open for dinner, its not a nightclub, and they run a first class operation. This is a great place for an anniversary, special occasion, first date, etc. The clientel is affluent and not the SILK crowd that can be loud and dangerous. As far as the employees parking in Guinta's parking lot, if that is true good for them for attempting to aleviate the parking problem. Guinta's it appears also to allow tour bus customers to park in their parking lot and I understand that the tour buses pay for that privledge. I am sure that Insignia has worked out an agreement to allow the parking and its not being done underhanded. If anyone cares to look the parking at Guinta's is poorly configured with a TON of parking to the west of SILK, exactly where it is NOT needed and as a result it is never used by shoppers at the strip center so for the owner of the Guinta's center to work out a deal to utilize their parking is smart.
VT March 12, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Insignia is a very nice place! I am assuming that there is an agreement with landlord of shopping center . Isn t SILK just a teenage club now? I remember when Wall St was there and it was "crazy " .
VT March 14, 2012 at 04:19 PM
I am curious as to what was decided about parking issues at last nights Town meeting.Does anyone know?

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