PATCHOGUE VILLAGE

Starbucks seeks drive-thru with special permits at site of former Bargain Bilge

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Starbucks is officially 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 and has an as-of-right use as a coffee shop; however, the use of the drive-thru is yet to be determined.

According to planning board councilmember Christopher Bianco, the question applies to the drive-thru and if it requires a special permit, or is as-of-right. The ZBA must determine, he said, whether or not the use, which is not expressly listed, meets standards and the same general characterization of other uses that have already been permitted.

The applicant’s attorney, William Bonesso, highlighted 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-through lane suitable for about 10 cars.

“For the last five years, Starbucks has been very much interested in obtaining a location in the Village of Patchogue,” he said. “This is just a perfect location for that and I feel tremendous to be able to introduce their business to the vibrant and [revitalized] village.”

Major special permit requests were heard on April 7 during the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, specifically for a restaurant with drive-thru service, as well as parking with 15 spaces. The interior will feature about 42 seats, requiring 25 spots. The applicant also requested relief for wall signage with two wall signs on north, east and west elevations and the height of the wall signs, which are required to be 15 feet and have 17’3” and 20’6” proposed.

“A walkup and drive-thru would diminish the natural need for parking,” Bonesso said, emphasizing the walkability of Patchogue’s downtown. As for the signage, he noted that the signs would be small medallions with one on a pedestal; an additional two signs were requested to display “drive-through.”

A curb cut, he went on to explain, would solely be created on Main Street with accessibility to only make a right turn in and out, with no entrance or exit on the newly redesigned Patchogue-Holbrook Road spur, as per county regulation. Hours of operation would be 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week with up to four employees manning the site; deliveries would be made only during off-hours and inside the parking area.

Some members of the board discussed concerns over safety and the drive-thru coupled with a walkup window. However, engineers of the plan said spaces and details would be reworked in the planning stage to assure safety, as would the details of an “aggressive” curb cut to strictly prevent left turns to help facilitate traffic flow, and a stop sign would be implemented to require a full stop is made.

A total of five residents spoke against the project including Jonathan Keyes, who expressed his concern specifically for a drive-through. “The presence of a fast-food, drive-in window in a walkable pedestrian downtown ought to be rejected,” he said, also questioning if drive-throughs are allowed in the existing zoning. “[This plan] flies in face of everything the village is known for.”

He suggested removing the drive-thru and moving the building up to the curb to reflect a truly walkable site. Erin DeFazio, resident of 15 years, said she agrees.

“I just want to emphasize that Patchogue and the heart of Patchogue is our small businesses – our small coffee shops, Bean and Roast – and we really need to understand and remember that’s what makes Patchogue special,” she added.

Bonesso disqualified some of the comments, stating that they are not seeking permission for use but rather permits.

“The only thing that arises here is the need for special-use permits,” he said. “The mere fact that we have a drive-through doesn’t turn us into a fast-food site. This is a site with easy access to all areas. The drive-thru portion is not going to harm the walkability of downtown.

“’This is a small, independent downtown village; we don’t want corporate America,’” he continued. “That is not an appropriate basis to determine a special-use permit of variance.”

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