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Nesconset Residents Call Town Board to Take Action in Sonic Battle

Smithtown Town Board asked to define what curbside dining is, as locals hope it's the lynchpin to denying Sonic's application for a Nesconset location.

Nesconset residents are demanding action from Smithtown Town officials in a renewed pledge to fight Sonic's application to open a restaurant off Alexander Avenue. 

"We saw what Sonic did to North Babylon, we saw what it looked like and it doesn't belong in a residential area or near a residential street," said Susan Fink, an Alexander Avenue homeowner. 

Fink started up a petition for Nesconset residents asking Smithtown's elected officials not to grant Sonic the variances and exemptions it needs to build a. 

She presented a copy containing 346 signatures from Nesconset residents to Smithtown Town Board at their Tuesday afternoon meeting. 

Fink was joined by Joan Forneiro, a Nesconset resident of Alexander Avenue, in highlighting the community's concerns about the proposed Sonic. 

"There will be a dramatic increase of noise and pollution, inaccessibility of entering and exiting our own driveway or leaving our streets, an increase challenge for family visits, mailman, sanitation, repair men, landscapers and delivery," Forneiro said. "How are they going to do that without queuing, it's a narrow little street." 

Other concerns mentioned included environmental impact of building on the vacant land leading to potential stormwater runoff and flood of local yards. 

In efforts to prevent Sonic's building proposal from being approved, Fink pointed Town Board members to the section 322-11 of the town code which states:

No building, structure, lot or land in any district in the Town of Smithtown shall be used for any of the following uses, except as provided in Article XI... curb-service restaurant.

Valley Stream-based Serota Smithtown LLC has requested a special exception permit to build the proposed Sonic, . 

There's just one problem. There's no definition of a curb-service restaurant in the town code, according to Planning Director Frank DeRubeis. 

"I would like town to define what curbside dining is, we are not allowed to have it, but there’s no definition of what it was. Sonic is saying it's not curbside," Fink said. "Outdoor dining is their brand, it's their ID, what they are known for. Indoor seating is just so someone will grant them permission."

Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said that since the public hearing on the proposed Sonic was closed June 26, the decision whether to approve their application is solely with the Board of Zoning Appeals.

However, Vecchio said the Town Attorney John Zollo could advise town board members on whether or not they would be legally allowed to make a definition of what a curb-side restaurant is at this time. 

"If you tend to agree with community this would be disastrous for all of us, could you define what curb-side dining is and hopefully it will exclude Sonic," Fink said. 

Smithtown's Planning Department confirmed it has received the SEQRA and environmental review it has been waiting on to make a decision on the proposed Sonic restaurant, allowing the Board of Zoning Appeals to make a decision any day now. 

Kristin H. August 15, 2012 at 07:41 AM
I would love to see a Sonic come to Nesconset! I think it would be a great addition to the community!
Nesconset Dude August 15, 2012 at 10:32 AM
Okay, Kristen, but how about we put it in YOUR backyard?
concerned citizen August 15, 2012 at 11:51 AM
just think of 50-60 cars idling for hours with their exhaust fumes floating in the air....
LM August 15, 2012 at 12:26 PM
The integrity of Smithtown's/Nesconset's infrastructure is deteriorating with each piece of land that is cleared. Ever wonder why there's such a flooding problem in the streets on rainy days? Blacktop and concrete is being applied to every inch of land we can find and there is no place for the rain water to go! The last thing the Township needs is yet another fast food place.
CF August 15, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Why dont they put it on 347? Why not use some of the old abandonded lots. Like where the 6th Ave Electronics was?
Nesconset Dude August 15, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Yes, put it right across the street from Town Hall, it would be the perfect location. I think we need some new residents in Town Hall while we're at it. Nothing but bad decisions and lack of a town plan. But I guess it's too late for that. The dumping ground known as Nesconset is pretty much levelled and saturated with sprawl, I guess the only place we can start expanding is St. James, then on to Head of the Harbor and Nissequogue. Garden apartments on The Sound! Here we come!
+irish+ August 15, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Curbside dining is outdoor tables in front of a cafe. Loudspeakers and intercoms are an audible assault on the neighborhood. The attempted Sonic "boom" is an assault on taxpayers in existing nearby homes. The second assult on Nesconset is the proposal to inject apartments in a single-home family neighborhood on Lake Ave. South. The online petition for the latter has over 800 signatures. I have yet to meet one resident who is not outraged over this ill-conceived apartment idea. Sign the petition (real names only on the petition to be counted by the Town) : http://www.change.org/petitions/town-of-smithtown-town-board-deny-the-zone-change-petition-of-story-book-homes-inc-2012-04-nesconset-2
Marion Knott August 15, 2012 at 03:00 PM
I guess I am not clear on where they plan to "open." Is it the short street across from the mall where there seems to be about three houses? I remember when all our big shopping was at Walt Whitman and then word of the coming Smithhaven Mall was announced. Lots of negativity. Warnings of traffic and litter. Well the Mall opened and most people love it. There is traffic but except at the holidays, it's managable. I don't see evidence of litter. What I am trying to say is that I sympathize with those residents who would be adversely affected by it but just explain just where Sonic is going to be. Alexander Ave. across from the Mall get the brunt of the Mall and they seem to have accepted it. I'm sympathetic to your concerns. I keep waiting for the State to do the overpass at Jericho and 347 and that has been in the works for over twenty years. I was happy when they stopped allowing cars to make left turns from my street, Hillside Ave. only because I am one of those mothers who constantly worry when their kids have to make left turns at that street since they were contending with traffic from the merge from 347 to Jericho and then Jericho traffic. The kids are all grown up now but believe it or not I still watch them as they go down the road. Now I am rambling so I had better put a period to my thoughts!
Nesconset resident August 15, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Or even in place of Houlihan's?
Nesconset Dude August 15, 2012 at 05:18 PM
@Marion - The Sonic location is not where you think, it's right on the corner of Alexander Ave South of the mall. This location would literally put the establisment in the back yards of local residents. Personally, I don't know how they would even fit a Sonic on that spot. @Irisheyes - You nailed it right on the head. It's time out elected officials pay attention to their taxpaying constituents. This level of outrage cannot be ignored.
Ann August 15, 2012 at 06:28 PM
If anyone would like to personally see what Sonic attracts, take a ride to Deer Park Ave. and see the line of cars in the shoulder, a half mile before the restaurant. People flock to Sonic and wait to get to the drive through. Curb-side dining or not, Alexander Ave. is NO place for a Sonic...
Smithtown Rez August 15, 2012 at 08:41 PM
It is all a matter of Smart Planning and something our Town Board continues to flounder on. What do we want to be? What types of business do we want to attract? What type of incentive will we lay out to make that happen, either along main street or these other abandoned tracts of high turnover failed businesses (like the 3 story restaurant on the corner of Middle Country/347, and 6th avenue electronics). Put the Sonic THERE. I realize very clearly that this town is 70+% Republican, so when the primary is over, so is the election. What is mystifying to me is how inept a decades long entrenched party can be in not developing new candidates and prospects outside of the old retiree/near retiree boys network who have nothing to offer as long as the Town hoards its cash in an overly conservative fashion and makes sure the community stays "homogeneous". As long as those two things are done, and a park is refurbished from time to time, who cares if we have a Master plan. We will just approve things in a reactionary fashion like the 1000th 7eleven. Town of Smithtown residents and the local Republican party (which I am a member of now) is inept. DO SOMETHING. It seems the only good things that happen in this town are when the community literally has to protest and scream and holler around common sense improvements like the armory park...which the Town Board thought would make a great bus depot. Really?! Can somebody south of age 60+ years please run for something in this town?
Argile August 15, 2012 at 08:45 PM
So let me get this straight, they're going to mow down more trees so people can stuff their fat asses with greasy burgers? Meanwhile there are plenty of pre-cleared vacant lots to build on. Yeah, that makes sense. I swear the more taxes we pay, the more idiots run the show around here. Anyone ever see the movie Idiocrasy? That's Smithtown.
Nesconset Dude August 15, 2012 at 11:08 PM
Well said.
Candyee August 17, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Robloz, right again !
Denise August 18, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Back when I was a kid, Alexander Ave was the first residential street which bordered the property that was our Drive- In . It stood there until the mid 80's. We were heartbroken to see that go, and the replacement was the Condo/housing community several years later. Where Pep Boys stands now, was a small Greasy Spoon Diner, those 4 corners were very rural, just woods and mowed grass. The abandoned looking, vacant Broadway Electronics shopping center across the street seems like a better location idea, just looking at it from the eye... TOS should require a very large parcel for something like that. Sonic regularly talks to patrons/servers on speakers outside, which I am sure would be heard by neighboring residents too. It is true, the property and adjacent street would need to have lots of room to accommodate the long line of cars. We have so much traffic as it is...After 40 years, it is finally a pleasure to drive with the improved road, new traffic signals, and added lane and not have a lump in your throat driving through that section, Jericho would be a mess on that corner, so close to 347.. While Sonic offers an Old Fashioned car side dining experience, it should fit into a location that would be beneficial to the nearby residents, community at large, and not become an "inconvenient neighbor". I hope TOS listens.
Nesconset Dude August 18, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Smithtown has no plan because it allows the town board to make things up as they go along. That way, they can maintain their "friends and family" plan and make sure their coffers have a constant stream of income. Funny how Vecchio treats the town surplus like it belong to him. Smart development and fix our roads and sidewalks first, this should be top priority, vs. ripping down every last plot of open space jsut for the tax dollars. Notice all this crap is constantly being dumped in Nesconset? Sonic, garden apartments, more 7-11's, and now another bank.
new guy August 18, 2012 at 01:41 PM
the town board only has control of the use of a property. they can not say we dont want sonic but Mc Donalds would be o.k. if the property is zoned for the use that sonic is then theres really nothing that can be done about it. i really dont have a opinion on this, other than to say if you buy a house next to commercial property you should be prepared to one day not being so happy with whats going on with that property. my house is in the middle of a nieghborhood so i wont deal with something like this. i will tell you that if was thinking of buying a house next to an empty lot or backed up to a commercial property i would no doubt research that property and find out what can aor cant go on that property, even find out who owns it and what other propertys they own. a little homework goes a long way.

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