Among a crowd of outraged Nesconset residents, Sonic franchiser owner took to the podium in efforts to alleviate local concerns and fears.
Spencer Hart, of Harrison, New York, took an opportunity to address local residents at the Smithtown Board of Zoning Appeals' on Tuesday night. Hart spoke directly to more than 200 gathered residents, as the owner of Sonic franchises on Long Island, alongside with his wife, who run it together as a family business.
"I fully understand the concerns that have been expressed, those I have heard so far. We have made ourselves available to talk. We spoke with some residents and heard their concerns," Hart said. "What I want to do is to take two second to tell you what I think Sonic is and isn't, as I have spent a tremendous among of time at Sonic."
Sonic restaurants are based on a 1950s diner-style concept. Under the proposed plans for Nesconset, customers will have the option of parking to sit down inside and order, drive-in with 22 parking stalls where car hops deliver or drive-through for fast food.
Hart highlighted some of the design differences between the proposed Nesconset restaurant and the North Babylon Sonic.
"One major difference is there will be indoor seating and no outdoor patio. It diminishes the number of concerns people have. I'm very confident no one standing on the outsides of the property will hear anything going on within Sonic," the franchise owner said.
The plans for Nesconset call for seating for 28 customers inside the restaurant, unlike North Babylon, which has an outdoor patio seating. The proposed location also wouldn't have music playing over the drive-in stalls, to cut back on noise generated by the restaurant.
"We specificly did not propose those for this location due to the residents to the south. Not that it would make a differences as it is inaudible from anywhere other than directly underneath it, but we are trying to be sensitive," said Bram Weber, a Melville-based attorney representing Hart.
Hart also said in response to the traffic concerns on Alexander Avenue that the Nesconset site has enough space so that 34 vehicles could be waiting in line - 16 off Middle Country Road, nine waiting inside the Alexander Avenue entrance, and nine waiting on its drive-through line, without interfering with parking.
"I understand that people don't waht to hear it, don't want to to see it, smell it or hear it," the franchise owner said.
He tried to assuage local residents concerns about potential problems by stating by having car hops who run food orders out to the customers' vehicles, they have a better eyes on self-policing the site. Part of car hops responsibility will be to pick up litter and properly dispose of it, according to Hart.
"We would love to be part of Smithtown and be there for a long time. If you jump ahead 12 month and look at the impact on the neighborhood, I don't think any of the concerns people have today, and I understand them, I don't think they will come to pass," he said.