Local residents and business owners had a chance to speak in front of the Town of Hempstead Board of Zoning Appeals about the at its hearing on Wednesday afternoon.
Focusing on the main issues of traffic, parking and impact on other businesses, some of the shopping center’s business owners and East Meadow residents voiced their opinion on whether they were for or against the proposed Sonic location at the meeting.
owner Larry Samuels said that, because of the nature of his business, he doesn’t believe that Sonic will have a direct benefit for him. But, he added, that it isn’t going to cause any inconvenience or interruption to his business. Samuels' business is located in East Meadow Plaza.
“I think it can only help in bringing some life into the area, increasing the view of the shopping center and long term benefiting of the town and the area itself,” he said. “…There is more to lose than to gain. I think this can only be a positive for the shopping center.”
“I am thrilled to have a solid nationwide franchise come into my community, take part of a vacant, under-utilized shopping center and sign a 25-year lease,” said East Meadow resident Rebecca Goldberg, who is also a professional traffic engineer. “I am thrilled for that.”
Addressing traffic concerns, Mark Head, a 14-year East Meadow resident who lives a few blocks off of Front Street, explained that he is a regular visitor to the shopping center.
“What I am really concerned about here is the westbound from Hempstead Turnpike into the lot, which there is no signal there,” Head said. “It is a very dangerous crossing when traffic is heavy. The size of the turning lane there is not so large as to accommodate a much larger level of traffic going into the shopping center.”
He also cited that the traffic plan within the parking lot is currently insufficient. “It is also dangerous to move in and out of the lot – I have seen accidents there,” Head added.
“I still believe there will be a backup on Hempstead Turnpike and I do not see an answer to that,” East Meadow resident and Merrick Avenue Civic Association President Pat Maher said.
“This Sonic is not going to generate a significant amount of traffic compared to what is already in the area,” Goldberg said. “Hempstead Turnpike is busy because it is the most major and the only major east/west roadway for miles in either direction. Whether you build the Sonic or don’t build the Sonic, traffic is still going to be bad at certain times of day. It is not going to, in and of itself, cause a traffic problem.”
and owner and operator Charles Wahler explained to the board that he was primarily concerned with parking because a decreased number of spaces would greatly impact his customers and business.
“On Friday and Saturday night, when both nightclubs are open, there isn’t a parking spot in the place,” he said, adding that decreased parking spaces might cause some of his patrons to not come to his establishments. Sonic is set to be open until midnight from Sunday to Thursday and 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
“They restricted my occupancy to 500 people because they said there was not enough parking in the parking lot…We agreed to it at that time but I can’t lose another 100 spots,” Wahler said.
How do you think Sonic would affect the center? Tell us in the comments.