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BZA Cites Parking Concerns as Reason for Sonic Rejection

Traffic and the proximity to bars were also given as reasons the board's decision.

Concerns with parking, traffic and the proximity to local bars were the main determinants in the Hempstead Town Board of Zoning Appeals' (BZA) decision Spencer Hart's application to bring Sonic Drive-in to East Meadow, according to Newsday.

After on the matter in which Hart, local business owners and residents in the community shared their takes on the proposed Sonic, which would occupy the spot formerly belonging to Rita's Ices at 1900 Hempstead Turnpike in East Meadow, the BZA to reject Hart's proposal on March 14.

He approval for eight variance applications, including special exceptions to install a drive-thru window and use a portion of the premise for outdoor dining, as well as variances for off-street parking.

Additionally, Hart for permission to install 24 menu board signs under two proposed canopies, install a drive-thru preview menu and regular menu board, and install a speaker and confirmation screen system for the drive-thru.

From Newsday:

The board denied the applications based on the huge shortage of parking for the proposed use, documents show, a shortage the board said could have a disastrous effect on nearby homes and businesses since patrons would try to find parking on residential streets. The board found that the study by Sonics traffic and parking expert and his testimony lacked information about parking in the lot starting at 9 p.m., shortly after which two nightclubs within the shopping center would be in operation and competing for parking spaces, documents show.

Bob Fanelli, a media relations representative for Sonic, told the Long Island Report that there was a plan in place to manage the boom in traffic that the East Meadow location might have received.

This is not necessarily the end of the line for Sonic in East Meadow, as Hart could appeal the BZA decision or submit a modified proposal. Hart's attorney, William Cohn, told Patch that his client made a decision pertaining to his course of action.

Do you think the BZA's reasoning for the rejection was fair? Tell us in the comments.

Brent M. March 26, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Disastrous Effect on nearby homes???? who's homes?? maybe it is just me.. but Did they actually look at the amount of parking spaces in the plaza?? after 9pm.. the parking in front of Zachary's would NOT have an effect on Sonic.. and in the summer and every other night EXCEPT Fridays.. parking isnt bad around Chelsea Street, I mean Savannah no wait... Aura now.. I mean with a nightclub that is doing so well buisness wise , it had to change its name 3x.... the PARKING issue is going to be disastrous!!! somehow I think the TOH Board looked at the disastrous effect of their DONATION problem as oppose to the Parking problem!!! Just saying.. Just words..
Raychel March 26, 2012 at 04:36 PM
I think there is ample parking in that area, and I highly doubt anyone is going to park on side streets hundreds of feet away, just to get Sonic. The old Pearl Art building should be knocked down, no one is occupying the space and it is a total eye sore! The only negative, in my opinion is going to be traffic on hempstead tpke, but like anything else, I'm sure it will die down once Sonic is established.
Rebecca March 26, 2012 at 04:59 PM
I agree completely with Timmy and Raychel above. It is ludicrous that Sonic would have caused parking issues, and I doubt that proximity to bars would hold up an application if the applicant were to donate a little bit of "dough" to the Town. I'm disgusted and really hope this isn't the end of the line...
Dean A Dinolfo March 26, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Isn't that one big parking lot TOH A-holes?? The only reason Sonic is a problen is the right official wasn't "greased". I owned a business for 2 years in nassau and gave it up because all these meatballs had there hands out. I hope sonic moves somewhere else as I will just drive to it instead of our politicians getting under table money
Rebecca March 27, 2012 at 02:34 AM
If anyone is interested, I just wrote to the Town of Hempstead to ask them to look into the issue of this parking lot being "full" on the weekends, because it basically proves that the clubs - which according to the owner's own testimony, are only allowed to have 1,050 people combined - are openly defying Town rules by having too many people. A friendly question: Do most people go to these clubs in groups, or alone? My experience is they go in groups, in limos, in cabs, and not alone, but what does everyone else think? Even if the average is 2 people per car, the 1,050-person cap would mean 525 parking spaces - leaving nearly 100 left over, WITH SONIC. So something smells very VERY fishy!
Gene March 27, 2012 at 12:11 PM
You have to be kidding. The shopping center is virtually vacant 5 days a week except for the two nights the night clubs are open. When they are open the other stores including home depot are closed. The whole decision is bogus. Write to Kate Murray and the BZA using their web site. The politicians allow pawn shops and tattoo parlors, but not a legitimate business that would help clean up the neighborhood.
paul March 27, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Something smells rotten in Denmark or East Meadow for this matter...... The long time club owner and a want to be politician may have personal ties/connections to the BZA and was crying foul. The BZA got it WRONG. It was an unreasonable response by the BZA and will need to hear about it by the public. We may have to take it a step further to the powers that be in the legal field. Possibly the Attorney Generals office.....
paul March 27, 2012 at 01:09 PM
I read the entire rejection. I do not even think the BZA made a trip to visit the location. Only went by a picture shown to them by the club owner. Who needs to do a survey after 9:00PM ??? The retail, merchants are closed or in the process of closing. Two night spots open at around 11:00PM. The LOTS ARE HUGE. I think the BZA needs glasses. I know I for one will be following up about the BZA response.. Working on media coverage to look into the sham of an answer...
Jenn March 27, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Unbelievable. I am on a tiny dead end street with no room for extra cars and the all-knowing TOH approved a strip of stores with a TWENTY EIGHT SPACE DEFICIENCY, that if those stores are fully rented by the wrong kinds of businesses, will mean much much more than 28, and could crush our "community" on this block...........but Sonic gets denied when its in the one of the largest parking lot areas that remains CONSISTENTLY open and borderline empty all the time!!!!! TOH, you really botched this decision (in my opinion). You dropped the ball on this one.
Frank T March 27, 2012 at 02:41 PM
TOH is not stupid they are corrupt!
marianne krause March 27, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Insuffiecent parking? what a joke!, what about all the parking on the other side closer to the one bar? i cannot understand how or why there are 2 bars located in the same area anyway. Hmm lets see drunken drivers, or people eating a hamburger? which is worse? i doubt that the BZA even went to the area to look at the parking
An tUasal Airgead March 27, 2012 at 07:37 PM
A report released last week detailed why Sonic's zoning variances were denied. It says the Sonic site, a shopping center that also holds two nightclubs, would be 609 parking spaces short of the 1,256 the code requires. Of course, it's 510 spaces shy of what the code states right now, and that's with the site, a former Rita's Italian Ice, shuttered. http://www.newsday.com/opinion/editorial-li-s-hostility-to-new-business-1.3624751
Michael Ganci (Editor) March 27, 2012 at 08:49 PM
I will be posting a copy of what was released in the next couple of days. Keep an eye out for that.
An tUasal Airgead March 27, 2012 at 10:23 PM
At some point Sonic will need to make a business decision if it is worth fighting, or just move on. White Castle is still bogged down in the legal quicksand vs. the TOH. March 13, 2012 Matter of White Castle Sys., Inc. v Board of Zoning Appeals of Town of Hempstead In a proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 78 to review seven determinations of the Board of Appeals of the Town of Hempstead, all dated June 2, 2010 ... http://law.justia.com/cases/new-york/appellate-division-second-department/2012/2011-02094.html
Chris April 13, 2012 at 09:04 PM
I happen to enjoy Sonic a lot. I live in Long Beach, and the drive to West Babylon isn't good- at all. The amount of parking in East Meadow is ridiculous. There are spots down the street, across the street. Those stupid-ass Hempstead representatives. I thought we were supposed to vote for them so they can share OUR ideas, not theirs. E.M. residents are such baffoons. Why do you think they invented driveways, dumbasses?!
paul April 14, 2012 at 12:11 AM
As I have said for years: Some Long Islanders need a check up from the neck up, and if the shoe fits then wear it............

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