Plans to convert an existing bakery into a Dunkin' Donuts with a drive-thru in Nesconset won a key approval last week.
The Smithtown Town board, in a unanimous 5-0 vote on Tuesday, approved an environmental report that concluded there would be no harmful impacts by Nesconset DD3 LLC's application for the Dunkin' Donuts at the corner of Smithtown Boulevard and Lancaster Avenue.
The board next will review the actual site plan for the operation.
The town zoning board in October granted some signage variances sought by the company. But the board barred sign awnings from being illuminated, ruling only wall signs could be lit up. The board also lowered the height of one sign to 6 feet from 15 feet, and rejected a small directional sign and 9-foot clearance sign for the drive-thru, said Carmine Grasso, an architect for the project at Cataldo Grasso Architects in Smithtown.
Grasso said property owner Anthony Pellizzi, of Huntington, had to apply for variances even though a Dunkin' Donuts is a permitted use in the neighborhood business zone.
"The way the town's zoning ordinance is written, you're only allowed to have one ground sign," Grasso said Saturday. "When you need to have a menu board, that's considered a second ground sign," which requires a variance."
More than 200 area residents in the fall signed an online petition against the Dunkin' Donuts, said Dawn Gary, who lives near the site. Some cited concerns about light from the signs, but Grasso said the signs would point away from residential areas and would be turned off when the business closes at 10 p.m.
Gary said at a public hearing in September that allowing the illuminated signs would change the character of the community, where existing small-business owners are limited to one sign for their operation. "Bringing in a national chain with bigger signage would be at the detriment of the current businesses in our location," she said.
But Pellizzi said he wanted to be part of the community. "We are a small business," he said at the hearing. "I'm not a big corporation. I'm just a guy, just like the guy who owns the deli, or the bagel shop."