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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 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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