While the Sayville Main Street Starbucks and staffers are ardently beloved, the coffee company’s proposed move to West Sayville’s former Chase location with its ATM drive-through on …
While the Sayville Main Street Starbucks and staffers are ardently beloved, the coffee company’s proposed move to West Sayville’s former Chase location with its ATM drive-through on Montauk Highway and Atlantic Avenue, has roiled some surrounding residents.
J. Nazzaro Partnership LP requested a rezoning at 90 Montauk Highway and Atlantic Avenue from Business 1 district to Business 3 district with a special permit for a fast-food restaurant, a special permit for outside seating, and a buffer relaxation at a June 24 Islip Planning Board Zoom meeting.
East Islip attorney Steve Bertolino, representing property owner James Nazzaro, commented that Starbucks has committed to a 10-year lease and would bring 25 employees to the site. “[Starbucks] made a commitment to come into West Sayville in these uncertain times,” he said.
But West Sayville homeowners have expressed dismay over the proposed Starbucks entrance and exit on Atlantic
Avenue, with a drive-through spilling out onto Montauk Highway that they say would cause safety issues, especially with drivers exiting the drive-through and attempting to turn left. Community members and youngsters who walk down Atlantic and West avenues negotiate a crosswalk by Cherry Avenue, especially those en route to and from Sayville High School and the Cherry Avenue Elementary School, they point out. And there’s the project’s impact on its close proximity to the West Sayville Fire Department. Also, they protest the zoning change requested, the precedence it would set and what would go in there when and if Starbucks pulls out with the proposed change in zone allowing a fast-food development.
In the Zoom meeting, Bertolino pointed to the corporation’s change in its business model, favoring drive-throughs at their locations. Starbucks is aiming for the site, he said, because of the former Chase Bank ATM drive-through presently there, with its attached building, which will have an entrance on Atlantic and egress from the drive-through onto Montauk Highway.
“Starbucks has determined the average wait time is 3.5 minutes [at the drive-through] and determines it would need seven cars,” Bertolino said of Starbucks’ aim at profitability.
Nazzaro said Starbucks was concentrating on more drive-throughs because of the coronavirus.
Several attempts to contact Starbucks’ corporate spokesperson were unsuccessful.
Bertolino said operating hours would be 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. The lawn would remain, but enhanced landscaping, with flowers, trees, plants and a patio area with seating would also grace the front. Nazzaro, who contacted the Suffolk County News after the Zoom meeting, said the amount of seating inside and out will be determined by Islip Town and the Suffolk County Health Department. Starbucks corporate will maintain the property, he said. The approximately 2,500-square-foot building would remain the same in size and renovated inside. The site is 1.06 acres; the buffer request is 4.9 feet. Parking for patrons will abut the building. “There is also a bypass lane [where] they can get off the drive-through line and exit,” he said.
Noting one of the main oppositions, the change to Business 3, Bertolino countered with this compromise.
“We’re willing to covenant [on Business 3] that we will not put in a fast-food business like McDonald’s, Wendy’s or Burger King,” Bertolino said. “Should Starbucks leave us, we will put in another coffee shop. If Taco Bell knocks on our door, we’ll say no.”
Nazzaro also emphasized the covenant and its intent, not offering it to a fast-food enterprise.
Bertolino provided a strong letter of support from Stuart Cantor, member of Green House LLC, owners of the historic building at 93 Main Street, famous for George Washington’s visit to Long Island in 1790, across from the proposed Starbucks.
“Is Starbucks really that bad an addition?” Bertolino asked.
Planning Board chairman Edward Friedland asked if current traffic was measured. Andrew Villari, PE project manager for Stonefield Engineering, the firm for J. Nazzaro’s site plan, answered it wasn’t because of the recent low volume caused by the COVID-19 virus. He acknowledged the traffic volume on Montauk Highway and said the busiest time is between 5 and 6 p.m. When asked how recent the data was, Villari commented that the most recent data from the Department of Transportation was from 2004.
Nazzaro commented, “We’re getting a detailed traffic study.” As for the lefthand turns, “There are two lights along with the crosswalks,” he said. “When the light turns red, it allows a gap. At numerous times I went to the site and went through the drive-through and made the left. We’ll have people out there doing traffic counts. We did a cursory study [initially] but because there was opposition, we’ll have someone out there counting cars. The issue about the crosswalk, there is a specific place to cross. We believe the location is very well set up.”
The conundrum voiced by residents like Atlantic Avenue homeowner Fran Viggiano, included concerns about drivers flying down an already narrow street. Cars park on sidewalks to accommodate tractor-trailers as well as vehicles hauling boats.
A marina, county park, restaurant, an oyster grower, lobster business, and a boat restorer attract visitors, patrons, boat slip renters and workers to Atlantic and West avenues, a small area. Add a nearby pier and the entrance to the Long Island Maritime Museum with its new Lt. Michael Murphy Navy SEAL Museum.
Mark DeAngelis, owner of the West Sayville Boat Basin Marina off Atlantic on Clyde Street, spoke to SCN. His family purchased the old Bluepoints Oyster Co. buildings at the end of Atlantic, after a developer pitched condos there in 2004. DeAngelis, who rents to business- es in the renovated Bluepoints build- ings, noted traffic on Montauk Highway that becomes horrendous, particularly during summer months. Some already aim to the water with their coffee; that would increase with not all, but some Starbucks patrons, he said.
DeAngelis spoke about a meeting J. Nazzaro’s representatives had with the community reiterating the traffic snafu.
A two-mile stretch, east and west, without traffic lights between Brook Street in Oakdale and Atlantic Avenue, particularly tempts speeders. “Some people speed at 70 miles an hour,” he said.
When heading east, they come to the traffic light at Atlantic Avenue. And some go through red lights, he said.
“We suggested a blinking caution light and Traffic Light Ahead sign that warns or slows people down [before Atlantic Avenue].”
DeAngelis did note that J. Nazzaro was a high-quality builder.
“No one doubts that,” DeAngelis said. The main issues were the traffic situation and change of zone that sets a precedence, he said.
Nazzaro said he asked the town to trim tree branches in an attempt to ameliorate the street’s narrowness, “and they did,” he said.
Atlantic Avenue resident Brendan McCurdy led the fight against the historic Bluepoints buildings being sold to a condo developer in the early 2000s.
“Covenants are words on paper that don’t remain,” he said. “Once you go to Business 3, you can’t go back.”
At the end of the Zoom meeting, the planning board deferred its decision. Islip officials said the site would have to be compliant with the current stormwater plan and would check specifications regarding the adjacent wetland area. Planning board member Brian Ferrugiari commented that traffic was an issue and questioned if the town could restrict the covenant offered to a coffee shop.