UPDATE APRIL 29: The additional comments reflect the opinion of the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce on the property. The original story is below.
The Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce has submitted a letter to the Village Planning Board stating that they are not in support of the property being used as a drive-thru.
A letter composed by executive director David Kennedy stated that it was unanimously determined that a drive thru at the location is an "inappropriate use" because an essential part of Patchogue's redevelopment has emphasized making the downtown area walkable.
"Putting a drive thru of any type at the former Bargin Bilge property goes against the principals of what walkability is all about," the letter states. "This was exceptionally stated before the Zoning Board by resident Jonathan Keyes, who happens to be Director of Downtown and Transit-Oriented Development for Suffolk County Department of Economic Development & Planning. I encourage members of the planning board to listen to that statement if possible."
Further, the letter said that while the Zoning Board has granted similar special permits for drive thru's in the past, properties need to be considered on a case-by-case basis.
"Again, we are very pleased Starbucks wants to come to Patchogue, but I hope they are aware that many do not feel the same," Kennedy wrote. "Many in our community are claiming a corporate giant, like Starbucks, does not fit in with the mom and pop small business model that dominates our downtown. ... I respectively ask the applicants to reconsider the application, remove the drive thru portion and show that a corporation like Starbucks does care about our community."
Starbucks is seeking permission through ABH Realty Group to demolish the former Bargain Bilge, located at 159 West Main Street in Patchogue Village, to construct a 2,065-square-foot building with a drive-thru, walkup window and outdoor seating, requiring special permits.
The property is located in the D-2 Business Zone that sits on approximately a half-acre property that has an as-of-right use as a coffee shop. Earlier this week, the zoning board of appeals also granted permission for the use of the drive-thru as well as permission to proceed with 15 parking spaces rather than the required 25, citing the non-intrusive nature of the application.
After Suffolk County planning review, the only requirement made was that there be proper curb cutting to prevent left turns into the parking lot. All requested special permitting including signage was approved.
“The proposed use is in the same general character as those listed as a permitted use in this district,” the ZBA report reads.
After review by the ZBA, the applicant resubmitted the application with revisions to the parking lot, including a stop sign after the drive-thru, a significant curb cut to prevent left turns as, well as a guided pedestrian crosswalk for safe access to the building.
The proposal then moved to the planning board for a site-plan review on Tuesday, April 27. About a half-dozen residents spoke in opposition to the plan, citing concern for the drive-thru, traffic and the lack of need for an additional coffee shop. Planning board member Dennis Logan made note, however, that the board is out of jurisdiction to decided who can and can’t come into the village.
“We have no jurisdiction in deciding a cutoff line for certain businesses that can no longer enter our village,” acting chair Kevin Weeks added. “We live in a free-market economy. Competition is good for the soul. For those saying we don’t need another coffee shop, that is beyond our abilities to render that decision.”
The applicant’s attorney, William Bonesso, reiterated Starbucks’ plans to create a walkup window with outdoor seating. He described plans to demolish the building and redevelop the site as a Starbucks with a single drive-thru lane suitable for about 10 cars. He also addressed the modified plan submitted, stating that it has addressed traffic and safety concerns with an added walkway and access point with a crosswalk, as well as the addition of the curb cut with no left-turn access.
Still, planning board member Eva Greguski stated her concerns for the safety of the drive-through. She said children and young adults visiting the coffee shop will not be using the walkway properly and will inevitably be in contact with drivers utilizing the drive-through.
“I am concerned about pedestrian safety,” she added, noting her opposition to a drive-through on Main Street. “This will be the only Starbucks in a downtown to have a drive-thru.”
The applicants suggested installing better fencing to prevent pedestrians from misusing the walkway and cutting across the parking lot. They also agreed to installing a speed bump at the end of the drive-thru line. The proposal was adjourned and is awaiting further information in regards to the revisions requested.