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BZA Rejects Sonic's Proposal for East Meadow Location

The client can still submit a modified proposal or appeal the ruling.

The Hempstead Town Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) decided Wednesday to reject the application from Sonic Drive-in, which was interested in occupying the space formerly belonging to Rita’s Ices at 1900 Hempstead Turnpike in East Meadow.

“The legal council is preparing the findings, which is a statement of explanation as to why the board denied the case,” BZA Secretary Richard Regina said.

Spencer Hart, the franchisee who also owns the North Babylon location, sought approval for eight variance applications. These included 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, they were asking for permission to install 24 menu board signs under two proposed canopies, a drive-thru preview menu, a regular menu board and a speaker and confirmation screen system for the drive-thru.

According to Regina, Sonic has yet to be notified of the BZA’s decision.

“The client will get the decision of the findings just like everyone who signed in at the public hearing get,” he added.

Sonic could still potentially submit a modified proposal to the BZA for the property or they can appeal the BZA’s ruling.

Hart is being represented by William Cohn of Forchelli, Curto, Deegan, Schwartz, Mineo, Cohn, & Terrana LLP in Uniondale. Calls to his office were not immediately returned.

This is a breaking news story. Patch will provide more information as it's made available.

Brent M. March 16, 2012 at 09:35 AM
It is just a matter of downsizing or changing a few things.. typical Town of Hempstead!! How long till we can vote Kate Murray out?? is it just me.. or if SONIC was to be proposed in Kate Murray's home town.. do you think it would have this much resistance from the TOH?:??? Just curious.. just words..
Chuck March 16, 2012 at 02:06 PM
I hate to think about the BZA being the chamber of TITHES...... It is probably easier under the friends and family plan..... But is better to know that this owner should get approval the old fashioned way. Earn It.....
Michael Ganci (Editor) March 16, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Patch is working on a follow-up, which will include response from the community. Do people here mind if I possibly include their comments here? Please let me know below if you give me your blessing. -Mike
paul March 16, 2012 at 03:10 PM
As unofficial as this poll is. It should speak volumes.. Do you think the Board of Zoning Appeals made the right decision? Yes - 21 (3%) No - 589 (96%) Other - 0 (0%) Total votes: 610
paul March 16, 2012 at 03:15 PM
To all: Keep this link alive. See attached article: http://eastmeadow.patch.com/articles/letter-to-the-editor-appalled-regarding-sonic It speaks volumes....
Michael Ganci (Editor) March 16, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Check here for a follow-up on the Sonic situation. http://patch.com/A-rCvK
Rebecca March 16, 2012 at 04:25 PM
No way! :`( I want to see that BZA letter, and see why the BZA made this decision. There is no way we can just let this lie and not have Sonic at the East Meadow Plaza!
Yankee1996 March 16, 2012 at 04:26 PM
I am assume that water was an issue. Specifically waste water. As much as I like to criticize the town, It is very common that companies seeking to do business in the town over look this issue.
paul March 16, 2012 at 05:36 PM
There already was a business that used water. Also as mentioned at a meeting sewers and the like will be updated as necessary for this type of business....
paul March 16, 2012 at 08:40 PM
To Pat Maher: You stated to Newsday: "The board did their due diligence in investigating the issues presented to them and apparently, found fault with the application presented by Sonic," said Patricia M. Maher, president of the Merrick Avenue Civic Association, who opposed the plan. "I believed that Sonic hadn't presented sufficient information and studies to be granted the application." Please tell us all how the application process works? Why dont you tell us all the reasons it was declined, since no one else does yet? It says Political agenda all over it........
ROBERT March 16, 2012 at 09:18 PM
Another great job by TOH. That small abandon building in the parking lot with the homeless guy under the canopy with his cart really looks nice for that area. The sonic chain would of ruin that look.
Frank March 17, 2012 at 01:36 AM
Typical of the anti-business, anti-jobs, anti-progress atmosphere in Nassau County and the Town of Hempstead. The County operates what is generally recognized as the slum of all slums major sports arenas in the US. A team owner offers to pay for the development of the entire property and provide a new arena. The result? "Too much development," plan rejected. A compromised development plan is then provided, where the County will provide a loan to said owner to replace said county-owned miserable arena. There result? Plan is rejected because people don't want someone spending hundreds of millions of dollars to replace a building the County should have replaced 20 years ago if that person might actually realize a profit somewhere down the road. Now we have some one seeking to put up a metaphorical and literal burger stand in place of an abandoned Italian Ices shack, in the middle of a dank strip mall parking lot, and that too gets rejected for some ephemeral reason that no one with any sort of sense can understand, outside of graft and mind-numbing stupidity being the actual motivation. As previously stated, the Town of Hempstead would prefer an abandoned building sit in the middle of an empty an underutilized parking lot, rather than a thriving business employing dozens of Long Islanders which would act as a magnet to attract those who might not otherwise come within 10 miles of East Meadow to the area and that shopping center. Un-friggin believable.
paul March 17, 2012 at 01:43 AM
Where are the anti Sonic naysayers???? Hiding behind more lies.....
Dan March 17, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Kate Murray sucks! And so does our Nassau Cty. Govt.! Like the Islanders staying in the Coliseum, Nassau Cty. has found a way to hinder our economic development by not putting in a Sonic that will create jobs!
Dan March 17, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Add another no vote for me!
Brent M. March 17, 2012 at 04:37 PM
I agree 100%
paul March 17, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Todays Newsday page A6 - Top Stories or online: http://www.newsday.com/long-island/nassau/hempstead-town-nixes-sonic-for-east-meadow-1.3607487
paul March 17, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Everybody keep posting your comments. We will be headed in the right direction soon. Real soon.... Sonic is just the beginning of turning the blight in the shopping center around....
paul March 18, 2012 at 02:56 AM
"I'm appalled that they [the board] would see this in a negative light and that residents in the community would be against it," said East Meadow resident, who has lived in the community for 18 years. "Sonic is a national franchise and it would have added a spark to the center that is needed."
John March 18, 2012 at 09:27 PM
I thought the information presented by the applicant at the hearing was detailed, thorough and complete. THe parking concern by the two club's representative was found, surprisingly, to be an issue with the club over-intensifying the center and in violation of the conditions in their prior BZA approval. Perhaps I was sitting in a different meeting.
Anthony Cimaglia March 19, 2012 at 12:21 PM
its funny how everything gets appealed when 99% of the people want it. With so many businesses facing hardship in that shopping center that will certainly get more people from all over driving in. even other local restaurants will profit as when the line is too long they go somewhere else (that happened to me in Babylon). We need a good burger place or bring back white castle!
paul March 19, 2012 at 03:34 PM
I as well as everybody else are waiting for the official ruling from the Zoning Board. We will be hoping that the owner does pursue the issue if at all possible. Myself and a group of others are planning as well on how to fight the TOH and their small minds... As most of you can see I have been in the forefront and very outspoken about wanting this project to get off the ground. It is not that tough. We are just very persistent.... Stay tuned...
Jfabez March 19, 2012 at 07:52 PM
NO SONIC LEFT BEHIND!!!!!!
paul March 20, 2012 at 02:42 AM
I think that is a positive comment...... ;o)
Rebecca March 21, 2012 at 12:40 AM
@John, you were in the same hearing I was at. I'm still stunned the Board voted 5-0 against... For what it's worth, I called today (a week after their decision) and the lady told me the Board's attorney was still writing the decision, and would be sending a copy of the Findings to anyone who signed in. Which makes me wonder: If it was so easy to deny the application, what's taking so long to write it up? Stay tuned...
paul March 22, 2012 at 02:37 AM
The official release by the BZA has not yet been distributed. As stated by another writer it was not yet typed up for mailing. I was given the same response today in person at the TOH. If the decision is something that can be reasonably appealed I am pretty sure an attempt will be made. Keep writing/blogging all your positive comments. The right people are reading them... When an official response is received please feel let the BZA know how you feel....
Kristina Hollywood March 24, 2012 at 04:38 PM
http://www.newsday.com/long-island/towns/long-island-now-1.1732330/town-parking-traffic-reasons-for-rejecting-sonic-drive-in-1.3620906
Susan March 24, 2012 at 05:30 PM
I truly cannot believe the reasoning of the BZA!! But here is a question though, how does this situation differ from when Crispy Creme opened on Hempstead Tpke by Newbridege Road? It was THE first one in all of LI. There was plenty of traffic initially and then the thrill wore off, people realized Dunkin was better (lol) and traffic subsided. The same thing would happen with Sonic. I'm really appalled at this decision and I hope the Hart's decide to appeal it and/or modify their plan. Maybe a smaller Sonic is better than no Sonic at all!!!
paul March 25, 2012 at 02:48 AM
I was appalled when I read the Newsday article about the BZA decision on Sonic. Everyone should write a letter letting the Town of Hempstead BZA know that you were appalled about their reasoning on the decision. Please let them know that they got it WRONG. Do not let anyone tell you it is too late to send in a letter. If it is appealed then you will be one step ahead. Please write a letter and send it in. The TOH MUST know how you feel. WRITE THAT LETTER........ Board of Appeals One Washington Street Ground Floor Hempstead, NY 11550
Rebecca March 27, 2012 at 02:35 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 (though I still have yet to see that!) 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!

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