Elizabeth Ann Lafayette stood before the Islip Town Planning Board to oppose a proposal to demolish most of West Islip's storied La Grange Inn, and cried.
"I have an attachment," Lafayette, 70, said amid tears Wednesday night. "I had my reception there almost 50 years ago. I was hoping to have my 50th wedding anniversary there."
Lafayette was among about a dozen people who testified. The planning board is mulling an application from Connecticut-based First Hartford Realty Corp. to develop a 16,000-square-foot CVS pharmacy and drive-through at the site of the shuttered former catering hall.
The planning board did not rule on the requested change from residential to business zoning. The planning board's recommendation will be forwarded to the Islip Town Board, which will make a final ruling.
Residents said they were concerned about increases in traffic, noise and crime -- and negative impacts to the environment. Also at issue, said residents, is the future of the historic 1750-era inn, which has been closed for two years because of finances. A similar plan for another drugstore at the site in 2008 was withdrawn amid opposition.
Anthony S. Guardino, an attorney who represents First Hartford, said CVS plans to move the roughly 2,100-square-foot portion of the original inn to the northeast portion of the site. The remainder would be demolished. Guardino, who said CVS would conduct a traffic study, stressed the proposal is still being hashed out, and said he planned to meet with community members for input. "We will be happy to work with everyone. . . . We're not looking to dig our heels in," he said.
Some on the planning board expressed concern after residents questioned whether the building could stand a move.
Board chairman John Schettino asked whether the building would be torn down if officials deemed it structurally unsound.
Guardino said, "If it can't be moved, we would re-create it."
Schettino shot back, "Let's try this again. Are you gonna rip it down?"
Guardino answered, "Yes."