St. James still opposes CVS site

St. James still opposes CVS site

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Lawn signs opposing a potential CVS in St. James have resurfaced several months after the pharmacy withdrew its initial application. File photo by Phil Corso

After striking out the first go-around, CVS has stepped up with a second attempt at building a new site in St. James, and residents are not going silently.

Vincent Trimarco Sr., the attorney representing CVS Albany LLC, had withdrawn initial plans to install a 13,551-square-foot CVS pharmacy with a mezzanine and 57 parking spaces at the intersection of Woodlawn and Lake avenues back in November. But Peter Hans, principal planner for the Town of Smithtown, outlined the details of the latest proposal at a Town Board work session on Tuesday as St. James residents dusted off their anti-CVS lawn signs for another bout.

The new plans, documents showed, included an 11,970-square-foot building on the first floor with 1,581 square feet of mezzanine space. Hans said CVS had modified its original plan, now placing the proposed building within a commercial business portion of the lot without a zone change, and would require slight variances to make the plans possible, including a special exception to expand parking in a residential district.

Hans said the applicant was requesting this exception to give CVS an extra 50 feet of parking. The proposal will be heard at the June 9 Board of Zoning Appeals meeting at 7 p.m. at the Smithtown senior center. If approved, the BZA will send the proposal to the Town Board for site plan review.

“So they’re more or less shoehorning the building in,” Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said in response to Hans’ outlining of the new plans at Tuesday’s work session.

Trimarco could not be reached for comment. But in a presentation to the Planning Board last October, he assured St. James that CVS would be a good neighbor.

“CVS wants to become part of the community,” he said at that initial meeting late last year, inviting a heavy stream of jeers. “The community of St. James, we believe, really needs a full-service pharmacy.”

Residents had long been against the proposal to build a CVS on the site, citing an abundance of reasons why they felt it would be a detriment to their community.

When the first proposal was at the center of controversy in November, residents took to a special Facebook page called Say No to CVS in Saint James as a means to organize and promote their cause. That page breathed new life this week in light of the newest proposal — something the page had warned about months ago.

“Don’t be fooled,” the page posted after CVS’s application was withdrawn on Nov. 19. “This fight may not be over yet. If you have a sign, hold onto to it. CVS can revise their plan and come back at a later date.”

The signs started sprouting back up over the past month.

CVS currently owns three stores in Smithtown. But for more than 70 years, the St. James community has been the home of Spage’s Pharmacy, which is located roughly five blocks from the latest proposed CVS site.

Residents approaching the podium at a BZA meeting last year often cited Spage’s as a more-than-adequate option for anyone in town looking for basic pharmacy needs, including the store’s own management.

“In my opinion if you were to grant this, these variances are excessive, there’s no need for it, you wouldn’t have as many people in this room and the signs that are out there, with over 6,500 hits on our Facebook page Say No to CVS, that are opposed to what is going on here,” a recent post on the page said. “This is a downtown community and we care about the character of our area, and we care about our quality of life, and we care about the values of our properties.”

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