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Gas station & convenience store plan faces new requirements

The applicants and town Planning Board members deliberated at length Monday night over the proposal for a gas station and convenience store at the southwest corner of County Road 48 and Youngs Avenue in Southold. 

The site was previously occupied by Tidy Car and East End Campers, a recreational vehicle sales and servicing business.

The amended site plan for the project proposes conversion of an existing 3,476-square-foot building into a convenience store, along with six fuel pumps — meaning 12 fueling stations — two canopies and 29 parking spaces.

A 2017 submission proposed a 2,250-square-foot convenience store and station on the 1.46-acre parcel, which is in the Business “B” zoning district.

The application on the agenda Monday dates back to March 2015, when the board issued a positive declaration under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, meaning that moderate to large adverse environmental impacts had been determined. Applicant Sukru Ilgin and Riverhead-based attorney Charles Cuddy have since had to submit numerous revisions of a draft environmental impact study.

The DEIS is intended to show how projects can mitigate specific traffic issues and environmental impacts. Submitted revisions were ultimately rejected by the Planning Board in January 2016 and again the following month. At that time, the application was marked incomplete because other supporting materials and documentation were also missing. A final environmental impact statement was adopted in July 2018 and, in April of this year, the Zoning Board of Appeals granted the applicant a special exemption with seven conditions, one of which requires Mr. Ilgin to complete construction and begin the approved use within two years of the date the exemption was granted.

On Monday night, planners reviewed the ZBA requirements needed to bring the proposed store, gas pumps and parking lot up to code, and to ensure that environmental and residential impacts are minimized. Those mandates include:

• limiting hours of operation from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

• prohibition of formula franchise food concession on the property.

• shutting off all lighting by 10 p.m. except dark-sky compliant security lights.

• signage preventing cars exiting to the north from turning left (west) on Route 48.

In addition, the Planning Board took issue with other aspects of the proposal, including the white-painted steel material proposed for the structural columns. The white color, planners said, is far too reflective and therefore intrusive to neighboring residents.

“We’re dark-skies compliant,” said Planning Board member Mary Eisenstein at the work session.

“White light bounces,” added planning department director Heather Lanza.

With respect to Southold Town code, board members asked that irrigation controls such as rain sensors be outlined in the proposal to prevent unnecessary watering and recommended a series of options for minimizing lawn area to reduce irrigation needs. The applicant and board members also agreed on a 35-foot aisle width between the pumps and storefront parking. This would make land-banked parking unnecessary and further decrease overall asphalt coverage, which the staff reports cite as “unnecessarily large” under the current proposal.

Mr. Ilgin was advised to, in good faith, save as many trees as possible and try to increase their number and diversity. The applicant must also revise his photometric plan for lighting details, as the current lighting plan exceeds code limits on permitted lumen value by 300%. Finally, the board required that either plantings or fencing be installed along the southern property line.

In 2015, when the application was brought before the Town Board for a public hearing, the room was packed with residents who objected to the gas station and convenience store.

Residents said they felt it would “prove a catastrophe for the neighborhood,” attracting crime, including “drug dealers and prostitutes” and increasing traffic and vehicle accidents. In response to that input and related concerns, Planning Board members stipulated engineering changes such as widening the entrance from Route 48 and moving it 35 feet to the east, providing sidewalks and indicating the location of the diesel pump station in the plans. They have also required that security cameras be installed to deter crime.

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