Starbucks drive-through zone change decision adjourned

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At a change of zone meeting for the Town of Islip held on Thursday, March 10, town supervisor Angie Carpenter made a motion that was seconded by councilman John Cochrane to adjourn the decision on the zone change application from Business 1 to Business 3 presented by J. Nazzaro Partnership LP, for the former Chase Bank site on 90 Montauk Highway, in West Sayville, to open a drive-through Starbucks on the property.

Carpenter noted that there was a “hiccup” when the IT Department for the Town of Islip mistakenly sent out a notice for the meeting advertising a 6 p.m. start time instead of 5 p.m.

Given this misstep and wanting for adequate time to review the traffic studies submitted and public commentary received as late as the day of the meeting, Carpenter said it was in the best interest of the community to adjourn the decision for next month’s change of zone meeting.

Steve Bertolini, representing J. Nazzaro Partnership LP, inquired if the specific notice from the IT Department was only in relevance to his client’s zone change application or for all three that were slated for the meeting.

Carpenter answered that she was unsure of the nature or intention of the misleading mistake, but that prudence regarding the controversial zone change in West Sayville be adjourned.

The application in question is for Starbucks, which is looking to open a store with a 24-car capacity drive-through at the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Montauk Highway. It is speculated that the future of the Main Street Starbucks is dependent on the outcome of the zone change application for West Sayville.

The application, first proposed at a June 24, 2020 board meeting, includes a special permit for a fast-food restaurant, a special permit for outside seating, and a buffer relaxation.

In a planning board meeting in January 2021, Andrew Villari, project manager with Stonefield Engineering & Design, said a traffic impact study was prepared in summer 2020 and submitted to Islip Town.

Senior planner Sean Colgan said in the January meeting that the review indicated that there would be “significantly more vehicles” entering and exiting the site during peak hours. In addition, he said, a bus shelter is recommended for the existing Suffolk County transit stop, located near the site.

The review also noted that Suffolk County Department of Public Works would need to issue permits for the proposed use and would evaluate the traffic in and out of the restaurant, Colgan said.

According to the traffic study, the proposed project would generate 227 trips during the weekday A.M. peak hour, 250 during the weekday midday peak hour, and 224 trips during the P.M. peak hour. A “trip” is defined as the total vehicles entering and exiting the site, Villari said.

The West Sayville and Sayville community has had a strong voice in those opposed to granting the zone change, citing concerns about jeopardizing the safety of students en route to locaal elementary schools. Sayville School District actually made a public statement opposing the zone change for Starbucks drive-through.

Sayville Chamber of Commerce president Eileen Tyznar said, “The adjournment wasn’t a surprise to both our Sayville Chamber and the Atlantic Avenue Residents Against the Fast Food Zone Change, as there have been so many concerns over the safety and lack of infrastructure as well as open communication with the public as to times and dates of meetings and lack of public comment.  Numerous organizations in this town and our residents have spoken quite clearly,  most against this project, so we are not quite sure why the Town of Islip Board is still moving forward with a zone change project on a leased property that  will potentially cause a loss of life. I am still hopeful that our board members of the Town of Islip will make the right decision on this project and vote against it.”

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