War of words over proposed Bay Shore gas station heats up

This abandoned gas station on Main Street in This abandoned gas station on Main Street in Bay Shore sits undeveloped on Feb. 5, 2014. Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

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The battle over a proposed gas station has already begun in Bay Shore even before an official application to build it has been made to the Town of Islip.

A meeting Wednesday night held at the Bay Shore-Brightwaters Public Library by Harry Singh, president and CEO of Bolla Oil, attracted dozens of area residents with concerns over the 10-pump, 20-nozzle gas station design.

Singh's plan for the three-parcel site, which runs about an acre on the north side of Main Street between Seafield Lane and Sunset Road, is drawing ire from community members who say the project is too large and will generate unwanted traffic, noise and pollution near a residential area.

The current site has three dilapidated, boarded-up buildings that have become an eyesore. Cars, some seemingly for sale, are parked on the lot where trash and graffiti sometimes accumulate. Island Associates Real Estate Inc., the owner of the property, has been cited multiple times by the Town of Islip for abandoned cars and overgrown weeds, records show.

To move ahead, the proposal would require a zoning change from the Town of Islip, as each parcel is currently zoned for BU 1 and would have to be changed to BU 3, which would allow for greater density. Four variances would also need approval from the town as well as a special-use permit for the 2,500-square-foot convenience store, according to Keith Brown, an attorney for Bolla Oil.

The start of Wednesday's meeting was civil, with Singh touting his company's image and community-oriented business ethics and showing photographs of truck fleets and breakdowns of grants given to local schools and organizations.

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But the small library space that turned into standing-room-only quickly escalated to shouts and tense words thrown back and forth between the residents and Singh and his team of lawyers, traffic analysts and engineers.

"The only support I've heard for this application . . . is because people are sick to death of the eyesore that we've been living with for 15 years," said Susan Barbash, who lives nearby. "I haven't heard one person say that we need another gas station or we need a convenience store. . . . Is this the best solution to a problem that we all acknowledge?"

Other businesses, such as a Hess gas station and a bank, have tried to occupy the land in previous years but failed for various reasons. Some residents, desperate for the site to be cleaned up, tried to hush the critics at the meeting.

Singh, who is seeking a 30-year lease from the property owners, has responded to some community input, including creating a redone convenience store facade and limiting the convenience store hours from around-the-clock to 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.

But that still wasn't enough for some of the loudest critics.

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At more intense moments, some in the crowd shouted: "Get out!" and "Get out of Bay Shore!"

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