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Proposed Hess Station Sparks Controversy - Again

Safety concerns expressed over proposed station at intersection of Jericho Turnpike and Harned Road.

For a second time, the is seeking a zoning change that would allow for a gas station with a convenience store at the corner of a five-way intersection on Jericho Turnpike, and the idea is being met with opposition amid traffic and safety concerns.

"The location is a high-volume traffic location, with very complicated traffic movements," said Frank DeRubeis, director of Smithtown's Planning Department. He said his department recommended against a similar proposal brought before the town two years ago.

That one was denied, and while the new site plan includes "some adjustments," DeRubeis said the "significant questions" remain.

He said the issue is not whether a new station would generate more traffic, but how it would affect existing traffic patterns at the site, which has vehicles entering the intersection from two directions each on Jericho Turnpike and Harned Road as well as an exit ramp from the northbound lanes of the Sunken Meadow Parkway.

DeRubeis said that while the first proposal was opposed by the town planning board, whose members are appointed by the town board, the current site plan is being endorsed by that group. He said much of the discussion has been about addressing the , which has been a shuttered former Shell station for many years.

The site's current zoning would allow for another gas station, but not one which includes a convenience store. Hess is asking to change that.

"The best use would be an office building," DeRubeis said. "The worst use is a high traffic generator."

Other groups have come out in opposition to the move, including the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association and the Commack Community Association.

Rudy Massa has owned , operated in partnership with Gulf, for 40 years. The proposed Hess site is a few hundred yards west of him on Jericho Turnpike. He said it isn’t the potential competition that has him opposed, but the traffic concerns.

“They opened up down the street here and nobody squawked,” he said, referring to the Hess Express and station which opened less than a mile east on Jericho in October. “They had a right to do it. But they want to change a zone here.”

He said the possible impact worries him as a member of the community whose grandchildren drive in the area.

Massa said he is also worried what another Hess station – which are all corporate-owned and have more locations in Smithtown than any other brand – would mean for the other local gas station owners in the immediate area. Another Hess station sits a bit further west on Jericho. He doesn’t see the need for a third in between, and expressed doubts about approaching the issue as a fix for blight, considering the independently-owned stations nearby who survive without a corporate safety net.

“The Shell has already been hurt. The Pit Stop has been hurt. The Sunoco is already up for sale,” Massa said. “You correct one blight and you could potentially have three more blights, because if they come in and draw more business they’re going to put these other guys out of business.”

He noted the action taken over a similar situation at the intersection of the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway and Commack Road, where a run-down former gas station across from the was demolished and the property landscaped.

A public hearing will be held on the issue at the town board’s February 16 meeting.

DFUSCO January 16, 2012 at 02:52 PM
If your claim of 20,000 turns is correct, it means that there is obviously a demand and need for such a business at this site, I have not seen the traffic study and don't know what the traffic engineers claim, but your argument has to stick to the issue- gas only is good to go, how many of the 20k will be for the convenience store - that's the only issue. An expert planner should be able to help plan something that will work not just stamp it NO.
Lou January 16, 2012 at 03:27 PM
That's what the town has DeRubeis and his staff for... He's come out publicly against it as generating too much traffic to an already high density intersection. He wants to see the lot redeveloped but he wants it to be a lower volume use. The expert has spoken but is anyone listening? add this station here and another will close in the area and you'll trade one blight for another
DFUSCO January 16, 2012 at 03:56 PM
If he (DeRubeis) can't convince the towns own planning board who now support the change, maybe he should reevaluate his position on the issue and try and help make it work out. I think you are dramatizing the effect one new convenience store will have on the area - are you perhaps involved in the gasoline business on that side of town? Guess we'll see what happens on Feb 16th and if the picture in the article doesn't say it all what more needs to be said.
Timothy John January 16, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Mr DeRubeis is the only person in this without an agenda, thats what they pay him for. As far as the Hess near Home Depot being full serve is because Huntington does not allow self serve. Why would any body be suprised that the local station owners take this personal. Their families and employees will all be affected by the traffic and disaster that the corner brings. Along with having 3 Hess stations within 2 miles. There were 3 accidents at the harned road corner in December. And there have already been 3 accidents since the new Hess opened right at the station. Wouldn't any of you out there fight back if your jobs and survival and safety were threarened by big business flooding your area,
Lou January 16, 2012 at 05:16 PM
No i don't work in or own a gas station in Commack. My agenda is simple: I travel harned road often and that intersection is a mess - I own a small business in Smithown and know the challenges of keeping it afloat for over 40 years and keeping my employees employed and helping to build the fabric and character of Smithtown. So I'll worry about my concerns and hope the right thing is done in this matter.
Howie Frank January 16, 2012 at 11:31 PM
DFUSCO. I am a resident in a neighboring town and I also own a Gas Station in Nassau County. I just want to educate everyone a little on why Gas stations offer a cash discount for gas. Everyone loves the fact they get points, miles or cash back when they use their credit cards.The fact is someone ultimately has to pay the credit card companies to offer these perks. Gas station owners , on average make $.08 to $.12 a gallon(after taxes) on gasoline. We can't afford to operate paying the credit card fees. For example at $3.65 a gallon, if a customer buys $60 of gas on an American Express Card, we make $1.64(16.4 gallons x $.10). The fees for a $60.00 sale on an American Express card are $1.95($60.00 x 3.25%). We obviously can't remain open losing money on the gas.In addition, a lot of customers feel that when they use a debit card they should pay the cash price for the gas. The problem is all these debit cards have a Visa or Mastercard logo attached to the card. Therefore there is a processing fee that is charged to the Gas Station.Finally, the reason that stations sell Beer and Cigarettes are so that they can actually turn a profit. In reality, the gas sales basically only cover the rent.The owner must have another source of income(i.e. Beer,Cigarettes,RepairsLotto,Deli,Candy, etc.) to pay the rest of his bills,his payroll,his taxes, and to turn a profit.As far as the corner in question, it will probably be another bank. There seems to one on every corner.
TS January 17, 2012 at 12:31 AM
I'm in agreement with Lou...I live south of Vets Highway here in Commack and often have to go through both intersections at Vets Highway and Jericho Turnpike to get to my church, get my kids to religion, go to various schools in north Commack for my kids to get to their sports, turn right onto Jericho at that intersection to go to various local businesses, dry cleaners, etc, and it's bad enough that the lights at those two intersections sometimes are so long that it takes me double the time to get to where I have to go.....now I have to worry about some dumb driver who will inevitably be traveling south AFTER that intersection at Jericho Turnpike and want to make a left into that gas station (cutting across three lanes traveling north on Harned) to get into a gas station on that corner, and possibly backing traffic up worse for those travelling north on Harned. So THAT is how a Hess station or any other gas station will impact that corner. And again for the THIRD time I will ask....Does Commack really need a third Hess station within three miles of each other? I understand that the corner is ZONED for a gas station and that there has been a gas station there before, but Commack and the surrounding area has GROWN considerably since that time and presently I feel that a gas station on that corner will create a lot more traffic than there already is and a lot of headaches.
DFUSCO January 17, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Yep...I know a lot about the business as someone related to my family had a station and filled me in on all the issues. He claimed to make no money on gas and relied on cigarette sales ,the cigarette advertising money and repairs. for money to live. I met the last owner of the subject closed station in this article through a mutual friend right before he opened it (for the last time) and shared with him the stories - he didn't think it could be true but didn't last too long at that spot. So the question is why do stations everywhere else but LI charge the same price cash or credit and why doesn't every other business out there do the same two price thing. The topic of this story though is the town not wishing to grant a zoning change to a station to allow a convenience store with their new station under the ruse of traffic issues - Maybe Hess needs that other source of income to stay in business as well. I guess we can tell by the number of stations that have closed over the last few years that gas is a tough business- the amount of $ you need to lay out for each delivery these days to make the same 10 cent profit , the regulations, etc. but thats the business you guys chose. Every business is tough these days and it is still somewhat hard to feel sorry when your "bosses" are making record $100's billions in profit while we gas buyers are struggling to fill our tanks - all along claiming "its not our fault"
DFUSCO January 17, 2012 at 01:14 AM
TS- your falling into the trap of blaming the traffic woes on HESS. It wouldn't be a story worth talking about if it was a high traffic McDonalds or other type store that wouldn't be sucking sales from close by businesses - they wouldn't care less about any extra traffic and may even be happy to see it. Have you ever been to the white castle (eeeww) only two ways in and out- both right handers. Have you ever been to Goodyear- only two ways in and out- both right handers - i could go on and on and they have both been there forever .. Your issue, and I agree, is the failure of the towns and state to keep up with the times and the increases in traffic volume and adjust traffic patterns, etc. Green right turn arrows while the cross traffic is in a left turn green and other traffic flow fixes would help yours and my traffic woes. So lets not blame it on a Hess mini mart but get to the root of the problem - the failure to upgrade the traffic flow by the towns and state.
TS January 17, 2012 at 01:32 AM
DFUSCO...I do see the point you are trying to make. Really it's hard to figure out what can go in there without a traffic nightmare. I'm just having a really hard time with ONE MORE gas station within a small distance of others. I see the point you are trying to make with the right turns into Goodyear and White Castle, however the difference in those two situations are the middle lane dividers in the roads that DO NOT ALLOW for left turns by traffic. I can respect others views on this and wanting to open that business there, I'm just not sure that I'm for it. I live behind the Commack Post Office so that Jericho Turnpike corner is travelled by me and my family NUMEROUS times a day, not a week, numerous per day. If I had it my way....I would run a right turn yield lane right through that stations parking lot and be done with it...wishful thinking :)
DFUSCO January 17, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Yes...I think we are all somewhat frustrated driving around here, especially on the weekend when everyone is home and trying to get somewhere - I was at the new shop rite this weekend talk about traffic!!! And try and get into Pep boys!!! In this day and age we have to almost be grateful for any new business venture that opens in an empty space and prospers- if you choose to shop there is at your and my discretion. I am all about free enterprise This corner looks atrocious, the old station across from Emilos -atrocious, the old Amoco/WTC next to the commack car wash- attrrocious, etc,etc. And the traffic issue here I believe is just a smokescreen. The only people to show at the town meeting will be those with an agenda speaking against it while those who dont mind the idea wont show up because they are OK with it if it happens - thats the way things work. Hey I didn't know this was even in the works until I read about it here! Maybe they should put up a sign there with an online vote - it is the 21st century!
Howie Frank January 17, 2012 at 02:29 AM
One last point on the Cash/credit pricing. Most stations that do offer this option , usually have a lower cash price than the stations that have one price for cash or credit. I know I post my cash price lower than the station down the block(which is a Hess) that has one price for cash or credit.The reason that out of Long Island you don't see a lot of cash/credit pricing is that the rents on the Island are far higher than any other part of the state. As far as the topic of this article,you should support and protect the local businesses because most of the time they live in and care about the community they own businesses in, not like a corporate run business that only cares about the bottom line. Last year, "Small Business Saturday" was a huge success, and was a concept supported by most communities.
DanAnderson January 23, 2012 at 12:20 AM
DFUSCO- It truly frightens me that there are people in our community that are heavily in favor of this proposed Hess Corporation gas station. Without question, it is evident that unlike Rudy Massa, YOU are the one who has a secret agenda, and is being dishonest. There is no other way for me to ask you this... Why do you wish to sacrifice lives of the future by fighting for this gas station to be built? While the property is currently vacant, there are still numerous accidents a month, maybe even per week, on the turn from Harned Road to Jericho Turnpike. We can all agree that the Hess Corporation will wish to have a high volume of cars entering and exiting this property ever hour of every day. I do not feel comfortable with any high volume business being built on that corner, especially a business built by Hess, who is obviously trying to monopolize this area's gas stations. There should be no denial of that assumption. I wish you, DFUSCO, would have been a bit more professional, and accurate, in your accusations thus far. If you make the turn from Harned Road to Jericho Turnpike at least three times a week like I do, or enter/exit any area of that intersection, you are forced to realize the fact of that intersection being extremely dangerous in its entirety. The Hess gas station on that corner would only amplify that hazard.
TINEB January 23, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Agreed - his agenda is all Hess - maybe he's a consultant for hess... He can volunteer as a crossing guard if it gets built
DFUSCO January 23, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Sorry....your both wrong. Just a lowly Commack resident with no ties to Hess or the gasoline industry, although if you could get me a lucrative consulting position with Hess it sounds like it could be a good thing. - I need help paying my property taxes in this town (now $14,000 this year). Again, if you think a Mini mart in addition to gas is going to cause gridlock on that corner I think you are mistaken. The place has been an eyesore for years and hopefully the plan is to revitalize the old "shade shop" property along with this plan. Go read the original stories following the links-the original claims are that Hess will put everyone out of business with no mention of traffic issues - now traffic is the issue? I don't love all the traffic in this town but do not advocate closing down shopping centers or fast foods joints because the traffic bothers me. Free enterprise
BillLongisland February 12, 2012 at 07:32 PM
There are gas stations, and there are GAS STATIONS ! Here is the Hess station that's going up in Mt Sinai...is this what you Really want ? http://millerplace-rockypoint.patch.com/articles/photos-construction-of-new-hess-express-others-in-full-swing#photo-8938250
Greg Martinez February 12, 2012 at 08:43 PM
Looks good to me. It is called capitalism, economic growth, & competition.
DFUSCO February 13, 2012 at 12:44 AM
When they build it I will come
Lou February 13, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Won't have to wait long for the injuries to pile up once all those cars are stopping to go in and out of the location - Good luck to all
BillLongisland February 13, 2012 at 06:01 AM
Will they put a "red light camera" at this location, or do they have one there now ?
Timothy John February 13, 2012 at 08:17 PM
They built 4 did you go, And in this past weekend alone there were 2 major accidents on the corner 1 man had to be removed with the jaws of life. That's right what we need is a high volume gas station to add to the choas. I hope your family never gets involved in that type of accident. WAKE UP PEOPLE !!!
Greg Martinez February 13, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Facts of life. Driving is one of the most dangerous things we all do. Intersections are, by their nature, dangerous. Shall we save lives by banning cars? How about banning gas stations?
BillLongisland February 13, 2012 at 08:31 PM
ADVERTISE FOR PUBLIC HEARING 1. The Town Board to authorize the Town Clerk to advertise for a public hearing to be held at the Eugene A. Cannataro Senior Citizen Center, 420 Middle Country Road, Smithtown, New York on the 23rd day of February, 2012 at 7:00 P.M., to consider Zoning Petition #2011-07 as submitted by L.M.I. Commack Realty Co., & Fayland Realty, Inc. (Hess Corporation), for a Change of Zone from WSI (Wholesale Service Industry) District, PB (Professional Business) District and R- 15 (Residential, 15,000 square feet, single-family) District to NB (Neighborhood Business) District on property located on the south east corner of Jericho Turnpike and Harned Road, Commack, New York, SCTM #0800-90-03-2.1 & 2.4. Smithtown Town Board.January 3, 2012, Regular Meeting Agenda
Timothy John February 13, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Mr Martinez, I hope you don't believe what you are saying. So let me get this straight we should take a very dangerous 5 way intersection and make it more dangerous just because driving is dangerous HUH ? I have to wonder what makes people so dillusional. Once again you better hope and pray you or a family member doesn't get hurt, you would change your mind real quick !!
DFUSCO February 13, 2012 at 11:01 PM
With all the stores in Commack closing down there should be less traffic on the roads - We need any new business we can get - this town is starting to look like a retail ghost town
DFUSCO February 13, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Yep.....I buy my gas almost exclusively from HESS - same price cash or credit and full serve by the Home Depot. Getting out of Gasoline heaven was never a picnic especially to go west- how many accidents there over the years?
Greg Martinez February 14, 2012 at 12:24 AM
"Mr Martinez, I hope you don't believe what you are saying." I always believe what I say & say what I believe.
Jimmy Bones February 14, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Speaking of the Hess near Home Depot. It reminds me of the "heaven" years ago. Same price cash/credit. Full service. They clean your windows. And there workers are friendly and fast!
Ann February 22, 2012 at 07:16 PM
I agree with Joe. There was a gas station there already. Gasoline could be just a dangerous when people block right lane on Jericho to buy gas. I think Rudy could use some competiton
chefcristo February 24, 2012 at 12:22 PM
rudy, no agenda huh? the above statment is an AGENDA in itself. you built your empire, charge extra for credit purchases (big bucks at the expense of credit-paying customers), have a convenience store...people making left & rights from it and your station....and you're trying to sound so altruistic, citing public traffic safety...be real! hess stations on jericho, do not operate on a self-serve basis, at least not the one near home depot. get the facts before you make other AGENDA statements. my ONLY point of near-agreement with you is that another gas station would not help beautify the jericho corridor. a low-rise office complex might be in order, and might offer less in/out traffic than a gas station/convenience store. in closing consider this; SAME LOW PRICE, CASH OR CREDIT!! greed hurts all of us.

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