January 18, 2017 -- At a public hearing on January 12, the Town of Oyster Bay Zoning Board of Appeals heard arguments for and against granting a variance for large illuminated signage at a new CVS store that is to be built adjacent to Bottle Buys on Glen Head Road between Cedar Swamp and Glen Cove Roads. If granted, the variance would allow for two pylon signs twenty feet tall to be set closer to Glen Cove Road and Cedar Swamp Road than code allows, and for each to have a surface area of 114 square feet, exceeding the 32 square feet of surface area that is allowed under the Town of Oyster Bay zoning code. Additionally, three illuminated signs attached to the building would exceed the Town’s five foot height limit by eight inches.
Attorney Anthony Cincotta and Robert Eschbacher of VHB engineering made their case on behalf of the property owner Glen Glen LLC. The two gentlemen said that the signs are typical for other CVS stores and asserted that larger signs would improve safety as they would clearly define the store’s location and entrances making it less likely that motorists would have to slam on the breaks as they approach the store and pull into the lot. As for the eight additional inches to the building signs, They stated that that was necessary in order to allow the words “located within” to appear under “Pharmacy.” They asserted that state regulations require those words to appear.
Several area residents spoke against granting the variance.
John Chase, attorney for the Village of Old Brookville, speaking on behalf of the Village Board, asserted that the size and amount of signs was an “overproliferation in illuminated signage.” The large pylon signs, he continued are 356% greater in size than what is allowed under town code.
“It’s going to look like a Christmas Tree,” he declared. “They’re not asking for a variance - they’re looking to rezone the property.”
He continued that in his work as attorney for the City Glen Cove, the city had received requests to allow similarly large signage, and that the ZBA there had rejected those variance applications. He cited Panera and 7-11 as examples.
Mr. Chase explained, however, that the Village of Old Brookville Board did not oppose a CVS opening at the location or the parking variance that they were seeking, which would allow for 95 spots when Town Code requires 112.
Likewise, Glen Head resident Elaine Braithwaite, who lives in the neighborhood across Glen Cove Road to the west of the property, said that she is not opposed to a CVS being opened at that location, but is strongly opposed to the proposed signage. She said she could see the demolition work that is being done at the property as well as the illuminated TD Bank Sign which is smaller than what is being sought by CVS and that more than 40 homes on the street would be negatively impacted.
Other residents expressed opposition or concerns about a CVS opening at the location.
Diane Jackson, addressing the engineer's assertion that the signage would prevent motorists from slamming on the brakes, said that if someone missed the turn they could just drive a little more than a mile down the road and find another CVS. “This will be the fourth CVS in the community,” she explained, in addition to there being a Rite-Aid, Walgreens, and two locally owned pharmacies. .
Resident Kathleen Vetter said she also opposed the opening of a CVS at that location.
ZBA chairwoman Arlene Van Loan replied that since the property is zoned for commercial use, it was up to the owner what sort of businesses were located there - and not the community. The purpose of the hearing, she explained, was to consider whether or not the owner should be granted variances for the signage and parking that were not in keeping with regulations established by Town code.
Deborah Orgel Gordon, President of the Glen Head Glenwood Business Association, said that she was concerned about the traffic and potential for more accidents in the area.
Mr. Cincatto addressed the board for a second time and said that what he was requesting was not unusual and that the size of the signs was typical of what is found at other CVS stores in Oyster Bay. Additionally, he said that the reason for the request was in the interest of safety for motorists.
“You need visibility to make the turn. If you eliminate a sign, you may be causing some accidents. These signs are here for a purpose,” he explained.
He reminded the board that the property is not in the Village of Old Brookville, but under town jurisdiction and therefore should not be limited by Old Brookville's regulations.
Planning Board Member Lewis Yevoli said that he was not aware of any commercial building in the Town of Oyster Bay that has the number of illuminated signs that the property owner was requesting.
Mr. Chase then addressed the board once again, and repeated that the Village of Old Brookville was seeking to prevent “Christmas Tree lighting.” He said that he was not requesting that the zoning regulations of Old Brookville be followed but rather that the zoning regulations of the Town of Oyster Bay be enforced.
Chairwoman Van Loan then adjourned the hearing, with the decision to be made at a later time.