Planning board denies 7-Eleven
BY GLENN ROHRBACKER
The Town of Brookhaven Planning Board has denied a special permit to a potential 7-Eleven franchise, which would have been located on the corner of Route 112 and Jamaica Avenue in Medford. The plan was met with much opposition from community members and groups since the public hearing in January.
Town code states that the burden of proof that an applicant seeking a special permit fits within the community standards and land use plan is “a relatively light one,” giving an idea to the level of opposition for this particular proposal. The code also states that denial cannot be based solely on “general community objections” or the board doesn’t agree with the use. According to the planning board, 28 members of the public spoke in opposition. A petition circulated by a local business owner contained 500 signatures also in opposition.
“The applicant has failed to meet even this light burden,” the board concluded in its findings.
According to planning board findings, the applicant, Apple Farm Realty LLC in Manhasset, failed to adequately provide enough room for ingress and egress both for customers and potential delivery trucks. Testimony by the traffic engineer indicated that 85 percent of the time there would be insufficient room to allow a delivery truck due to backed up traffic at the intersection. With cars stacked at the light, a truck would be forced to block the ingress and egress on Jamaica Avenue, which the board wrote it could not approve. The board also found that the site may not create new traffic, but in its role as a stop-and-go facility, there would be additional congestion at the intersection of Jamaica Avenue and Route 112. And despite the applicant testifying that tractor-trailer vehicles would not be used for deliveries, two other 7-Eleven franchise owners testified that via tractor-trailer is how 7-Eleven makes deliveries, causing the board to declare operation of the site “unreasonable.”
The board stated clearly that the decision was not based solely on community objections. They wrote in their findings that the site would be appropriate for a convenience store under the town code, but the applicant did not provide an adequate site plan. The board declined to make a connection between the project and local property and business values, due to the lack of experts testifying on the issue.
The board did not find any reason to deny the applicant based on gas emissions that would have been created, as well as any impacts on local sewage capabilities. It did, however, find that due to the traffic impact, there could be adverse effects on the enjoyment of the park across the street, which could be a factor in denial of a special permit. In addition, the board found the use of a convenience store across the street from a park to be “unreasonable,” pulling from a section of the town code that requires the board to determine a distance that would be unacceptable.
“We’re very happy with what the planning board did,” said Brett Houdek, president of the Medford Taxpayers and Civic Association in a phone interview Tuesday. The association has been advocating against the 7-Eleven since its proposal.
Houdek said he feels the planning board listened to the concerns of the community and acted within the purview of the town code. Concerns from residents included the likely heightened traffic along the corridor, which is across the street from Sean Dixon Memorial Park, owned by the town. Residents were concerned about the possible safety threat to children. Houdek added that it was just the wrong location for that type of business. There is a convenience store less than two blocks away, and two 7-Eleven stores in Medford and North Patchogue, also on Route 112.
“If this 7-Eleven gets built over there, it’s going to kill my business,” said a local convenience store owner at the Jan. 7 public hearing. “And I guess that’s what they want, just kill all the local businesses.”
The site would have been just under 3,000 square feet. It sits next to an auto repair shop on one side, and is surrounded by homes on all others. It is currently wooded and vacant.
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