Town Hall Press Release
Town Board Pledges Vigorous Defense of Convenience Market Regulations
Changes were designed to protect quality of life in neighborhoods surrounding proposed free-standing convenience markets
Huntington, NY The Town of Huntington pledged this week to vigorously defend the recently-enacted regulations on applications for free-standing convenience markets in the face of a court challenge from convenience store giant 7-Eleven.
On June 6, the Town Board unanimously approved the changes in Town Code to place new restrictions on applications for free-standing convenience markets (those not in shopping centers). The changes were prompted by a study the Town Planning Department conducted of existing convenience markets in the Town, looking at traffic, parking and deliveries issues during peak hours, as well as comments by local residents about problems involving convenience markets in their neighborhoods.
The study concluded that convenience markets generate more customers per hour during morning peak hours when compared to other retail uses; that while convenience markets located in shopping centers appeared to have sufficient parking and areas for on-site loading, freestanding markets did not; that as a result, cars and trucks end up parking in the adjacent residential areas, detracting from the quality of life in those neighborhoods; and that the insufficiencies also produce traffic circulation issues that create safety concerns for pedestrians.
When the Town Board held a public hearing on the proposed changes, 24 people signed up to speak. Almost all of them supported the new regulations. People who spoke at the hearing told of traffic issues that will only be made worse by a convenience market and the influx of cars during the morning commuting hours, as well noise from the deliveries and patrons late at night. They all strongly urged the Town to act to protect the quality of their lives.
On October 7, 7-Eleven filed suit in State Supreme Court challenging the changes to the code. 7-Eleven says in the suit that the changes will greatly impact 7-Elevens ability to construct new freestanding stores within the Town. The suit is being heard in State Supreme court in Riverhead.
At a news conference at Town Hall on October 26, members of the Town Board pledged to vigorously defend the code changes.
We feel we are on solid ground, Supervisor Frank P. Petrone said. We feel we have done what is important for the communities, for all our quality of life, and we are not restricting any of these convenience stores. We are mainly putting regulations in place, for them as well as for our community and our residents.
Councilman Mark Cuthbertson, who was a moving force behind the code changes, said, We are very much united with the communities that are affected on this issue, to uphold our regulations. A lot of times we get complaints about local governments catering to not in my back yard, to NIMBY. This is very much not the case here. In this case, weve done a study where we looked at specifically what the impacts are of convenience stores, and we tailored regulations to try and address those impacts.
He added, We have regulations that should lead the way on Long Island for how to fairly treat convenience stores and address the effects they have on the surrounding communities and on the Town as a whole. We want to address these quality of life issues in a reasonable way.
Councilwoman Susan Berland said, we are united as a board in this effort to have our regulations upheld. There is absolutely a total rational basis to the regulations that we put forward. Its simply a quality of life issue. You have to take into consideration the communities that are being affected. It is up to us as a Town Board to enact regulations that deal with those negative impacts and make the quality of life better for all the residents here in Huntington.
Councilman Mark Mayoka said, We stand united as a Town Board on this issue. These regulations are important for the benefit of residents of Huntington. Every resident in the Town of Huntington has a right to quiet enjoyment. These convenience stores interfere with this right.
Councilwoman Glenda Jackson could not attend the news conference, but also expressed her support of a vigorous court fight.
The new regulations require anyone seeking to build a freestanding convenience market to obtain a special use permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals. The new regulations require a minimum lot size of 25,000 square feet; a minimum distance of 25 feet from adjacent residential or residentially-zoned parcels if the market will be open from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.; a 10-foot landscape buffer to reduce noise and visual impact; an off-street truck loading space of at least 12-by-40 feet; and one parking space for each 150 square feet of gross floor area (the code had required on space for every 200 feet). The regulations also ban outdoor sales, storage and display of goods, including vending machines.
The requirements would not affect existing convenience stores or those located in shopping centers.