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No appetite for Checkers plan at meeting

Checkers, a popular burger chain, boasts the slogan "Feast On." A group of Massapequa residents would prefer they move on.

Concerns over cooking odors, traffic and late-night noise brought the neighbors to Tuesday's Oyster Bay Town Board meeting to oppose a plan to build the drive-through restaurant on a vacant Sunrise Highway plot.

An hour of debate ended with no board decision, but a promise from the franchisee to meet with opponents. The restaurant, speakers worried, could be a magnet for teens already using an adjacent bank parking lot for what they called alcohol-fueled gatherings.

"Kids already get out of hand there," said Richard Rosso, who lives on Bertha Lane behind the site, "and now we're going to feed them."

The proposal calls for a 1,400-square-foot building with twin drive-up windows and 23 parking spaces. The restaurant would close at midnight Sunday through Thursday, and 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Judy Simoncic, a lawyer for the franchisee, Nassau Burger Corp., said the closing times are similar to those at a Burger King a few blocks away. The volume on the speaker boxes would be set so that they could not be heard beyond the restaurant property, and non-neon lighting will be used, she said.

As for traffic, a study for Nassau Burger Corp. indicated a 1 percent increase to the already busy area, Simoncic said.

Angela Insinga, another Bertha Lane resident, said the stretch of Sunrise Highway is already saturated with eateries. "When is enough enough?" she asked. "We're just afraid of the overflow of people."

Town Supervisor John Venditto suggested ways to "soften" the impact: reducing operating hours, increasing security at the property, and installing a commercial odor abatement system. "Is there some way we can make this work?" he asked, while acknowledging neighbors "painted a graphic picture" of their concerns.

Simoncic said Nassau Burger Corp. would "welcome further dialogue."

If the town grants a special use permit, it would be Nassau Burger Corp.'s fifth Checkers, joining restaurants in East Meadow, Elmont, Westbury and Hempstead.Also at Tuesday's meeting:

- The board approved a final adjustment to the contract for a new athletic center in Hicksville, which opened last fall. The after-the-fact bookkeeping measure brought the center's cost up $9,954, to $5.76 million.

- Venditto announced that a bid will soon be awarded for long-awaited road improvements on Jackson Avenue in Syosset. The $6-million plan covers new sidewalks, repaving and curve straightening for a 1-mile stretch south of the railroad tracks. The work has been discussed for years, but was delayed until Oyster Bay took responsibility from Nassau County for the heavily traveled road portion.

If a bid is awarded March 8 as expected, work can begin almost immediately, weather permitting, officials said.

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