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Residents oppose plan for gas station and fitness center in Huntington Station

The Huntington Station property, formerly a Buick dealership,

The Huntington Station property, formerly a Buick dealership, as seen on Dec. 11, 2014, is hoping to rezone to allow, among other things, a gas station. Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

A proposal to rezone a former car dealership on West Jericho Turnpike to allow for an eight-bay gas station/convenience store and fitness center has drawn opposition from residents worried about traffic, safety and pollution.

Port Jefferson Station-based Matrix Investment Group LLC has applied for a zone change for the Hagstrom Buick/Tom Rice Buick site on the northwest corner of Jericho Turnpike and West Hills Road in Huntington Station. The group plans to build a 6,929-square-foot QuickChek, part of a New Jersey-based chain, and a 40,150-square-foot LA Fitness, part of the California-based firm.

The change of zone would go from general business district to automotive service station district and minor commercial corridor district. It also would revoke the covenants and restrictions on the property, which are specific to automotive sales use.

"I've hoped that someone would put something there to get rid of the eyesore," said Laura Davidowitz, a neighborhood resident for 13 years. "But . . . what they're planning to put in is going to be much more of an eyesore and it will create safety issues and an increase in debris."

Jeffrey Bies, owner of the Clubhouse restaurant across the street from the proposed development, said the project would benefit the community and improve property values.

Keith Brown, the Melville-based attorney representing the developer, declined to comment to a Newsday reporter after the public hearing at Tuesday's town board meeting. He insisted to a couple of residents who peppered him with questions that they "relax and take a deep breath" before answering their questions.

Kevin O'Brien, a Mineola-based attorney who lives nearby and represents residents and some businesses, said he would like the developer to sit down with residents and scale back the project.

"Even though it's a big site, it's way out of proportion," O'Brien said.

The town board was presented with a petition with more than 100 signatures opposing the project.

Islip residents gave five hours of testimony earlier this year representing both sides of the issue on a proposed gas station in Bay Shore. A variance on that proposal was denied last week.

Residents in Smithtown in recent months have also rallied against proposed gas stations, citing quality-of-life issues.

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