PBC Approved Plan

After several iterations, the above plan was submitted to the Pine Barrens Commission for a Hardship Waiver that was heard on June 21, 2017.  MICA supported the revegetation plan that would eliminate any potential gathering area behind the proposed 7Eleven that might promote nefarious activities plaguing other areas along the Middle Country Road corridor.  The PBC granted the waiver at its August 16th meeting. The approved plan will result in more than 47% of the parcel being landscaped with native plantings and a single, new 2,995 sq ft building replacing the decrepit old station and strip mall.  Attorney Keith Brown presented this latest plan at the August 17th MICA meeting. He explained that the plan must undergo three hearings at the Town of Brookhaven: Town Board for a Change of Zone/special permit, Board of Zoning Appeals for a few minor variances, and the Planning Board for site plan approval.  MICA voted to support the COZ application at its August meeting.  We will still work with the owner/applicant on details of the signage, fencing, etc.

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NELI16-01E-Middle Country Road Middle Island – Concept Plan REV 1

Realtor Richard Nelin and attorney Keith Brown attended the August 18th MICA meeting to discuss  plans (above) for a possible combination 7Eleven/gas station at the parcels Nelin Realty owns on the northeast corner of Rts 25 and 21 in Middle Island.  The project would utilize both parcels that are now home to the empty gas station and strip mall, as well as a portion behind the existing gas station.  There would be four gas islands with 16 pumps, and the facility would be open 24 hours.

Reaction by MICA members at this meeting was mixed: some are happy that this blighted corner could soon be resolved, others would prefer to wait for something — anything– besides a 7Eleven.  More details are needed before MICA takes an official position on this proposal.  We will work with the property owner and the Town of Brookhaven as this project moves forward.

Here are some of the questions and concerns MICA has regarding this proposal:

The public is very aware of the problems at the 7Eleven just to the west: drugs, crime, prostitution behind the store, shootings at people in the parking lot, major bust by US Marshalls earlier this spring, attempted robbery last month. EMTs, ambulance crews and volunteer firefighters respond to this location many times a week.  Everyone is understandably concerned about another similar business generating the same types of problems in Middle Island.

What sorts of requirements or covenants exist – if any — in TOB Code that could force the owner/operator/landlord to keep this a crime-free and good-looking establishment?

This property has been an eye sore in the heart of our community for 15 years.  Nelin Realty has been making money while perpetuating this blight via a rental agreement with Rite Aid that prevents any other competing drugstore from building there.  While all are eager to see this blight end, Mr. Nelin should offer some major community beautification givebacks at this site.  Landscaping, planting boxes, signage complimentary to that at the library corner (diagonally across the intersection), are important.

The property is very near what was once Pfeiffer’s General Store. If the project is to be similar to the Center Moriches one, historic photos of the corner, placed along an old fashioned fence, could reference its prior important use.  Additionally, if the building looked something like an old fashioned store, with colonial façade, features and a porch, it might be more palatable. (see photos on page 2)

What does Mr. Nelin currently have the right to build there, “as of right” so to speak?  What else does he need, such as special permits, etc?

Why is the lease with Rite Aid breakable now?  Couldn’t it have been done earlier? What is WalGreens’ role?  Is it true that the lease continues to 2026 and the blight could last another 10 years?

Why can’t something other than a 7Eleven/gas station be built there?  The public has many other suggestions! When polled, the civic members requested anything BUT a 7Eleven.

Please confirm that both parcels, the dead gas station AND the empty small strip mall, would be used for the project.  Mr. Nelin has recently said this is the case. This is important.

How would traffic enter and exit the combined parcels?  It’s a very tricky corner. Wouldn’t certain turns have to be prevented for safety? Where would parking be?  How many spots?

How many gas pumps would there be? Aren’t there concerns that a gas station would be fought by environmental groups given its location near the Carmans River?

Would the developed property generate more property taxes?  Details would be helpful here.

What would the construction timeline be?

Mr. Nelin and Mr. Brown said the design of the proposed project would be similar to that of the one recently built in Center Moriches, pictured below. We await additional drawings to confirm this.

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It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since Tom Talbot and  Gail Lynch-Bailey met with Michael Nelin at the Coram Diner to talk about these properties.   Time sure flies.

At that meeting, Mr. Nelin was excited about possibly building a Quik-Check there, and he assured us the non-compete lease he has with RiteAid is easily broken. Obviously his subsequent meetings with the TOB proved unproductive, because we still have that vacant gas station and strip mall there for all to see. Although we do not think the community will support another gas station at that site, we know everyone is eager to see something successful there.

Things are changing for the better in Middle Island – and we want Nelin Realty to be part of that change. The old Island Squire restaurant was demolished in 2015, and Breslin Realty took down the Kmart building this spring.  McDonalds is moving to the King Kullen shopping center. The Longwood Public Library has returned to its beautifully expanded headquarters at our community crossroads – diagonally across from Nelin’s holdings.  And Sandy Hills is almost completed, which means Nelin’s parcels will have access to its STP and its hundreds of new residents.

Did you know that the Nelin property once functioned as the town center of Middle Island?  Pfeiffer’s General Store stood there for more than one hundred years.   It started as an inn and tavern, was a stage coach stop and served as the post office until 1957. The store was a social meeting place where people came to purchase supplies, get a haircut and pick up mail. At its heart stood a potbellied stove, which was the sole source of heat in the store. Around this, people played checkers, discussed the politics of the day, or gathered for just a good gossip. From time to time, farm auctions were held in front of the general store.

Let’s work together to return this property to its former greatness!  The community is full of ideas for new uses and wants to participate in a good plan.  We believe several of our elected officials have been – or will be – in touch with Nelin Realty about this property, too.  We invite Mr Nelin to meet with us at an upcoming Middle Island Civic Association meeting or in a smaller group, whichever he feels more comfortable with.  We urge him to please contact us as soon as possible.