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St. James - CVS Application Draws A Standing Room Only Crowd

By p.biancaniello (click on photos to enlarge)


They came, they listened and they don’t want it. That was the message  expressed by the 100 or so St. James taxpayers who attended the Smithtown Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) meeting Tuesday, June 9, 2015. The topic was the CVS application to build a store on the corner of Lake Avenue and Woodlawn Avenue. 

In 2014 CVS Albany LLC, filed an application in the Town of Smithtown to build on the corner of Woodlawn and Lake Avenues in St. James. The proposed site is a lot zoned residential. At that time CVS was asking that the property be rezoned to Commercial Business. The residents attending the 2014 hearing roared  that they didn’t want it.  CVS withdrew its application.  

CVS is back before the BZA asking for variances and a special exception that would allow them to construct their store. A BZA public hearing is the forum where the case for the application is made first by the applicant followed by public comments.   Vincent Trimarco is the attorney for CVS.  Also representing the applicant was traffic expert Patrick Lenihan, Director of Transportation at VHB Engineering. Mr. Lenihan offered assurances that the traffic issues would be addressed by “rearranging timing on traffic signal” at the Woodlawn/Lake Ave. intersection.  Mr. Lenihan does not anticipate much additional traffic stating that the majority of the traffic will not be CVS specific but rather cars already on their way to or from a location.  Courtney Reily, also from VHB Engineering, requested that the BZA grant relief from the parking requirements. Under current code, CVS is required to have 124 parking spaces and one loading Bay. CVS is looking for relief that would permit 57 parking spaces and one loading bay.

The CVS application seeks: 1 - A parking variance of approximately 54%, 2 -  Special permit for parking in R10 Residential Zone, 3 - Relief for parking greater than 50 feet into the residential district, 4- Relief for a buffer, 5 -Relief for the prinicpal building not conforming to parking requirements, 6 - Relief for requirement related to parking greater than 15 feet from Lake Ave.

The Planning Department was asked to comment on the application. Long time Senior Town Planner David Flynn, who was recently appointed Director of Smithtown Planning Department, read comments from the planning department’s report in which he offered the Planning Department’s official recommendation that the application be denied. The audience, a filled to capacity crowd, was pleased and met his comment with wild applause. Mr. Flynn explained the decision by stating that the applicants request for variances were substantial and that collectively they would have an impact on the character of the neighborhood. He stated that the lot is residentially zoned and to grant the relief requested “is tantamount to rezoning and not eligible for a special exception.”  “Any alleged harship in complying with the ordinance is self-created,” said Flynn. “This zoning has been in existence and for CVS to pick a property that is not suitably zoned, they’ve created their own practical difficulty.” 

St. James resident Denise McMahonIf there was a message the residents wanted to hear it was the message Mr. Flynn delivered. Resident Denise McMahon delivered petitions to BZA members with 1,200 signatures in opposition to the application. “I don’t think anyone here objects to a CVS in St. James: what we are objecting to is trying to squeeze a 10lb. saussage into a five lb bag.” Speaker after speaker stepped-up to the podium to state their concerns about traffic, parking and the impact on the community should the application be approved. “Mr. Flynn, dig your heels in.” said one speaker. 

Rev. Miguel Pagon - New Jerusalem ChurchNot every speaker opposed the application. At the end of a long line of speakers opposing the CVS application came Pastor Miguel Pagan from the New Jerusalem Church On Woodlawn Avenue. Rev. Pagan supported the application saying it would provide better access to health care and prescription needs. Rev. Pagan also spoke about the deterioration of the buildings on the proposed site. A long line of parishoners from the New Jerusalem Church stepped up to the podium in support of the CVS application.  


Reader Comments (2)

No CVS in St James. This is a travesty and a middle finger to all residents.

Mon, June 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTim Fleming

Miguel Pagan and his "long line of parishioners" do NOT reside nor pay
Property tax in St. James. Someone should look into what are "they" are getting
in-return for their support?! (Property)?!

Wed, July 8, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDee

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