Developer are seeking approval to build a Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through and an office building on land next to Nesconset’s Sprofera Park, but opponents said the plan is out of place for a residential neighborhood.
Developers are asking the Smithtown Town Council for a change of zone from residential to wholesale service industry to permit the project on the partly wooded 2.7-acre triangle formed by Browns Road, Route 347 and the Sprofera Park parking lot.
Plans call for a 2,190-square-foot Dunkin' Donuts, a 12,450-square-foot office building and 132 parking spaces. Lawyer Vincent Trimarco said he is representing Jesse Walia, who owns several Dunkin' Donuts franchises and would develop another on the parcel. Town planning documents also listed a Smithtown developer, Elmer Hornberger, as an applicant for the parcel.
The town Planning Board recommended against approval last year of plans that called for Browns Road access, which some neighbors said posed a traffic hazard. The board found last year that the proposal did not conform with the town’s comprehensive plan and was not consistent with surrounding land uses.
Current plans call for a tree buffer along Browns Road and only allow for access on Route 347. Additionally, the applicant would give the town enough land to add roughly 22 parking spots to the Sprofera Park lot.
“The plans to put these buildings in the long run is much better suited” than the residential alternative of three to five single-family homes, Trimarco said at a Sept. 20 Town Council hearing. He argued that the Dunkin' Donuts would attract only motorists who were passing through the area and that new homes would generate significant traffic of their own.
“How can the board allow rezoning which will permit a commercial drive-through less than 200 feet from our home?” asked Maureen O’Connor, who lives north of Browns Road on Winners Circle.
“I feel like I’m living in a parking lot,” said Linda Costa, who lives next to the land that would be developed. In a later interview, she said she feared development would ruin the “country feel” afforded by the trees on that land.
Few town parks abut commercial property, although Chales Toner Park, in Nesconset, is off Smithtown Boulevard and opposite several commercial parcels.
Town Supervisor Edward Wehrheim said in an interview that the prospect of additional parking for Sprofera Park’s three ballfields was attractive but that he had not yet decided how he would vote. He plans to consult with town planners and visit the site this week, he said. “I did hear the residents and their concerns.”
He said it was unlikely he’d be ready to vote by the council’s Oct. 9 meeting.
In related news, the Islip Town Planning Board last week blocked an application for a Dunkin' Donuts in Bayport after residents argued in a public hearing there that a drive-thru location would bring noise and traffic to residential streets.