Gas station changes from Citgo to Gulf, large signs questioned
By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong
Efforts to bring a Dunkin’ Donuts to the former Elmesco gas station in Cold Spring stepped up this week, with arrival of a building permit application in the Cold Spring village office and confirmation by the gas station proprietor that plans for a Dunkin’ Donuts continue on course.
Meanwhile, the gas station, converted from Citgo to Gulf, is pursuing installation of an array of new Gulf signs, which came under the scrutiny of the village’s Historic District Review Board Wednesday night (Nov. 13) and await a likely trip to the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Tracked down Thursday morning in the Port Washington area, Syed Hussain, who described himself as owner-manager of the Gulf station, emphatically said “yes” when asked if he intended to create a Dunkin’ Donuts in Cold Spring.
Plans for converting the garage into a Dunkin’ Donuts while retaining the gas pump operation developed under Kenny Elmes, the former owner of the gas station-car repair garage. Elmes spent months getting approvals from the Planning and Historic District Review Boards in 2012 and his sale of the business this past spring took the village by surprise.
“We don’t know yet” when the Dunkin’ Donuts might emerge on the site, as that depends on how long it takes to get the building permit and everything in place, Hussain told Philipstown.info-The Paper in a brief phone call. However, “we should be opening within a couple of months,” he said.
Questioned about the status of the Dunkin’ Donuts, Bill Bujarski, Cold Spring building inspector-code enforcement officer, said late Wednesday in an email that “I do have a building permit submission for the Dunkin’ Donuts, but have not opened it or reviewed it; just received it today.” He was not available to provide further details.
In October, Hussain and a Ballston Lake company called SNA LLC, which deals with commercial lighting and displays, submitted paperwork to the village showing at least eight new Gulf signs, including some for gas pumps. In sending the sign application to the HDRB, Bujarski noted that the “signage is in excess of four square feet” and thus not in line with village restrictions.
One new sign, already in place – the large Gulf sign that replaced the Citgo sign – in particular drew the HDRB’s attention. “It shouldn’t have gone up in the first place because it didn’t have this board’s approval” or any similar approval, HDRB Member Kathleen Foley commented.
HDRB members said the agreement with Elmes last year allowed him to retain his aging Citgo sign, which did not meet historic district standards.
“That was a non-conforming sign already” and once it was removed, it could not be replaced by a new non-conforming sign, HDRB Member Carolyn Bachan told Mark Kusewich, who appeared on behalf of the sign-change project. Kusewich works for an installation firm hired by SNA, the sign creation company, which in turn works for Gulf. No one from the gas station management attended the HDRB session. “SNA deals with the owner. We deal with the signs,” Kusewich informed the board.
The sign “shouldn’t have been changed” without authorization, which the new gas station ownership should have known given the numerous issues raised when Elmes pursued the Dunkin’ Donuts venture, HDRB Chairman Al Zgolinski said. “It’s frankly unfair” for Kusewich to have to deal with that problem now, he added.
HDRB members likewise focused on a 5-foot-10-inch by 3-foot-8-inch Gulf sign designed to hang on the wall of the building, and on the overall number of signs.
“It seems the first stop for this has to be zoning to determine the amount of allowable signage,” Foley said.
Zgolinski concurred that “there are zoning requirements that limit how much signage, all total” is acceptable. He advised Kusewich to confer with Bujarski to go over the rules and procedures for requesting a variance. Moreover, the applicants should decide which signs they can do without, given the restrictions, he said. He recommended that all this occur before the sign project returns to the HDRB.
Dunkin’ Donuts only came up in passing, when Zgolinski wondered about the status of the Dunkin’ Donuts plans.
“What do you mean?” Kusewich said, seemingly unaware that a donut shop loomed in the background.