Toyota plans move to Medford
Sunrise Toyota plans to move its Middle Island location to the currently wooded area on Horseblock Road in Medford, between Target and U-Haul.


Toyota plans move to Medford



Sunrise Toyota plans to move its Middle Island location to Horseblock Road in Medford, between Target and U-Haul.

The project would incorporate two significant structures on the currently wooded property. The Toyota dealership would be situated on the southern portion of the property, closer to the Long Island Expressway. The purpose of the second structure, closer to Horseblock Road, has not been finalized but would either house a second dealership franchise or a used-car dealership, said Jimmy Berg, owner and CEO of Sunrise Toyota, at the Medford Taxpayers and Civic Association meeting on May 23.

The proposal requires that the parcel be rezoned from J2 Business to J5, which permits car dealerships. This zoning category, however, also grants passage to purpose the parcel for outdoor storage, a lot type that is over-represented in Medford, said Brett Houdek, the president of the association.

“Zoning is forever — this is where our concern is,” Houdek said. “Eventually, [Berg] will retire, somebody will take over. And if they don’t hold onto this property, we would be seeking covenants. What we really have issue with is J5 outdoor-storage potentials in the future.”

There have been two prior retail approvals regarding this parcel — Petsmart and Kohl’s — that did not pan out. Sunrise Toyota’s plan does not differ from them in terms of setback from Horseblock Road or the LIE, and existing trees extending 100 feet off both roads would be untouched as a buffer.

A below-grade parking garage that spans the length of both structures and the space in between is proposed, a pertinent difference from the Petsmart and Kohl’s approvals. The garage would house new vehicles and stock.

“We are not going to be parking cars all over the place,” Berg said.

The central portion of the property, where the proposed structures would be located, features a valley in its topography, said Christopher Robinson, president of R&M Engineering in Huntington. Incorporating a garage beneath would reduce the amount of fill required to level the foundation of the structures.

“We’re going to take advantage of the natural grade,” said Robinson, who has been involved in planning development for this site and neighboring ones since the 1980s. “It’s a significant improvement that we’ve done from the prior applications on the property.”

Additionally, Horseblock Road passing on the north of the property would be widened, as the road narrows on this stretch and creates an inconvenience for motorists turning left. The Suffolk County Department of Public Works is involved in the road project, and U-Haul, neighboring the parcel to the east, has vouched that it would follow suit, widening the road before its property, Robinson said.

Residents at the May 23 presentation expressed concern about widening the road and the dealership’s proposed location in general, noting that it would be a step in the direction of transforming Horseblock Road into another main road in Medford ruled by the automobile industry, like nearby Route 112.

“We don’t want to proliferate more car dealerships,” said Nerina Sperl, the treasurer of the association. “However, if we do have car dealerships, we want them to be formidable dealerships with top-notch companies and nice buildings — not just open-air car lots where cars are being shuffled back and forth all over the road that we are getting on [Route] 112.”

Signage is proposed that would be visible from the LIE, along with a glass tower feature attached to the Toyota dealership. The height of the tower is not yet finalized, but is estimated to be between 45 and 60 feet.

“To go on the LIE and have people on the LIE not able to see you is kind of useless,” Berg said.

A smaller monumental sign would be installed at the entrance on Horseblock Road. This entrance to the property, however, poses an issue for Eagle Estates residents, according to Josh Stewart, a board member of the neighborhood’s homeowners association. The child-dense Eagle Estates is just north of Horseblock Road, and a sign with substantial height on this end of the property would be visible to these residents’ homes.

Residents also voiced concerns about vehicle test-driving from various nearby car dealerships occurring on residential roads, a concern that Berg assured his dealership would not follow suit upon.

“There is absolutely no reason that anybody from our store should be test-driving in a neighborhood,” Berg said. “We can make that a policy. I don’t have a problem with that, because to me it’s [about] safety. And I don’t want to annoy the neighbors, either.”

A site plan application has yet to be submitted to the Town of Brookhaven, though the town is involved in the conversation.