The Brookhaven Planning Board on Monday unanimously voted down a controversial proposal to allow construction of a Walmart in East Patchogue, ending a monthslong debate over whether the national retailer was appropriate for the site.
More than 200 residents attended the meeting, where the board voted 6-0 against the proposal. One board member, Peter Zarcone, abstained.
The 98,000-square-foot store would have been built at the northeast corner of Hospital Road and Sunrise Highway, near Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center. The application had drawn support from many hamlet residents, but faced opposition from Suffolk County in recent months.
Monday's denial was due to Wal-Mart Store's failure to "properly mitigate its impacts to Hospital Road and its bridge" over Sunrise Highway, the board wrote in its finding. In addition, the board wrote, Wal-Mart did not agree to "the removal of a sidewalk and the installation of an additional" 45-foot turning lane.
Wal-Mart officials projected the retailer would have added 100 construction jobs and another 250 part-time and full-time positions. The retailer also said it would invest $1.25 million to revamp two traffic lights and construct another to ease traffic.
"We're disappointed, and we know there are a lot of people in the community who are disappointed as well," said Bill Wertz, Wal-Mart director of communications for the eastern region. "We know many people wanted jobs and the affordable shopping it would have brought."
The board received 389 letters and petitions from the public, according to the findings report. Of those, 340 favored constructing the big-box store for reasons such as Walmart stores' prices, potential tax revenue, job creation and the need for another retailer in the area, the report said. Those against the project said they were worried about quality of life, the potential negative impact on mom-and-pop shops and increased traffic, the report said.
Planning board chairman Vincent Pascale said he believed the proposal had too many traffic and safety concerns.
Town code gives the board the right to deny an application due to access, safety and traffic concerns. In this case, traffic experts asked for an additional turning lane at the site, which Wal-Mart wouldn't agree to, Pascale said after the meeting.
The Suffolk County Planning Commission rejected the application in December, citing the lack of "an appropriate location for such a large retail use. "This type of development at this location should be avoided."
County officials also said that 11.6 acres of vegetation needed to be cleared for the development.
One resident said the vote was the right one.
"I'm thrilled," East Patchogue resident and Affiliated Brookhaven Civic Organization member Annette Kattau said of the vote. "I'm not against Wal-Mart, but the location."