Starbucks drive-through zone change meets opposition

Developers promise covenant

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The third item on the agenda for a town board meeting on a zoning application held on Thursday, Dec. 17, was for the possible Starbucks drive-through at the former Citibank on Montauk Highway and Atlantic Avenue.

The inclusion of the drive-through for a restaurant would require a zoning change from B1 to B3.

Over half a dozen community members addressed the board with concerns about the zone change. There were extended periods of silence in the livestream of the meeting, but the speakers whose comments were transmitted were against the zone change.

The first presentation by attorney Steve Bertolino, who represents the applicant for the zone change, addressed community concerns about traffic and zone change, and said, “Starbucks is committed to this site long-term… the corporate store will run from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m., 7 a.m. and 11 a.m… for decades this site was already a drive-through site; it was a bank with an ATM.”

The applicant stressed that unlike a Burger King or Taco Bell, there would be no late or early morning activity at the site.

Stating it would take an average of three and one-quarter minutes for a customer to place and receive their order, most Starbucks drive throughs required 10 to 12 cars in queuing, whereas the Sayville drive-through will have a double-queued lane that will service 23 vehicles.

The entrance will be on Atlantic Avenue and only allow right turns onto Montauk Highway for exit. Bertolino said that the developer was willing to make a bus stop in front of the coffee shop an alcove.

Bertolino took pride in his client offering a covenant, whereas any future buyer would be limited to a coffee shop on the parcel and said, “We can’t limit brand [of coffee], but if Taco Bell wants to come in, it wouldn’t be allowed unless the board allowed it.”

To further his point, Bertolino said his client would have at least a 10-year lease for the Starbucks.

In speaking about the West Sayville Fire Department, Bertolino was emphatic that no representatives of the department had spoken either for or against the project, only confirming that his client offered to accommodate the would-be neighbor of Starbucks to allow for easier access and maintenance of borders of their facilities.

The first community speaker, Brendan McCurdy, challenged the town board and inquired why the public notice for the meeting was only included in the Islip Messenger, explaining he had to drive to their office in Ronkonkoma to collect a copy and that it was not readily available on the South Shore. Public notices must be published at least 10 days before in a newspaper that is circulated in the area. In a call with a reporter after the meeting, McCurdy said that he was concerned about traffic on Atlantic Avenue. He noted that Atlantic Avenue is an older street that has on it a house of worship, marina, and a museum. McCurdy also noted how right across the street from the site is a historic landmark, the Samuel Greene home. George Washington stopped at the home on his tour of Long Island in 1790. 

Eileen Tyznar, Greater Sayville Chamber of Commerce president, spoke vehemently against the zone change and gave examples of previous covenants overturned by the town board in the past 10 years. 

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