Raymond Cook of Cook & Krupa, Inc., current owner of 372 Jericho Turnpike in Floral Park, went before the village board Wednesday night with an application to construct a CVS, complete with a drive-through pharmacy, and another building, which could hold a maximum of four tenants, at that address.
In Cook's opinion, the property has been vacant for quite some time and the construction of these two buildings would undoubtedly improve the area. "It's an unsightly piece of property for the village," he said.
Because it's in such close proximity to a village entrance, board members said developing the land would make a difference but were concerned whether or not Cook would maintain the property. The village has had problems with littering and garbage at another nearby CVS.
Cook said he intends to keep the design of both buildings in line with the village's current design and landscaping and will maintain the property in terms of landscaping and garbage control.
Although the parcel of land totals 86,000 square feet, Cook & Krupa, Inc. intend to occupy only 29 percent of the property. Cook proposed the CVS store would take up 12,800 square feet while the other building would be approximately the same size. A 50-foot landscaped buffer would face the residential property and act as a noise buffer.
The lot would provide 102 parking spaces, one extra space than what's required. Moreover, the three dumpsters that would be situated behind both buildings would be enclosed with brick on three sides, leaving a fenced gate on the fourth side to enable trucks to pick up garbage.
Does Floral Park need another pharmacy? One resident says the village needs another CVS like it needs a hole in its head. "I'm not against developing the area but we don't need another pharmacy. These people come in, run a big business and they only care about the money," he said.
"I don't see these people attending our churches or hiring people that live in this community. Jericho Turnpike is turning into Queens Blvd. The CVS down the street looks like dirt now. This is a mom and pop town. Give me a month and I can get you 500 signatures of people who don't want this."
When Cook & Krupa, Inc. purchased the property years back it was mostly a large parking lot used to park buses. It also was home to a garage-type building that serviced the buses, a building close to 80 years old before Cook & Krupa, Inc. tore it down.
Under the supervision of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the company removed oil and petroleum tanks situated under the building. Moreover, the prior owner also took out existing contamination that accumulated on the property.
Once a Superfund site, the property now has a clean bill of health as far as the state is concerned, according to Cook. Village Trustee Phil Guarnieri agreed, saying the property was remediated in accordance with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
"The EPA was present during the soil testing," Cook said. "Approximately three years ago, remediation efforts were completed and the property has been taken off the Superfund List."
Cook & Krupa, Inc. was later in contract to build a Grand Union on the property but that project fell through when Grand Union went bankrupt.
A resident who lives one house away from the existing brick wall on the property, which she said is unsightly even though it regulates the noise, said a CVS could be the lesser of two evils when she thinks about what that area could've been like if the Grand Union was actually built. "When I hear an empty building is going up, I think strip mall," she said. "Sometimes I feel like we're the forgotten end of the village and I ask that the board keep us in mind when making the decision to go ahead with this project. "
Trustee Guarnieri explained that the board has no authority in determining what stores will occupy those empty buildings unless it involves the preparation and selling of food; in which case the applicant is again required to go before the board.
Mayor Ann Corbett and the board closed the public hearing and opted to reserve decision on this application. In other words, board members have not yet voted on Cook's application.