Citing traffic safety concerns, the unanimously turned down a special use permit from 7-Eleven, essentially curtailing within the confines of the village.
While at a previous board meeting in October residents had flooded the village board chamber , the board denied the permit seeking to serve food based on the number of hazards it saw in the application.
Recalling the being packed with residents, trustee Paul Cusato said at the March 14 meeting of the village board that he “was there to support them and I’m going to support them and I’m going to agree with the findings.”
The proposed 2,500 sq. ft. store would be located at 400 East Jericho Turnpike at the northeast corner of Jericho Turnpike and Jay Court with 10 parking spaces – three on the eastern side and seven on the southern side. A loading zone would be located on the eastern end of the building as are enclosed areas for trash and refuse. There would be one entrance/ exit along Jericho Turnpike and one entrance/exit on Jay Court. The lot, formally the site of an Amoco gas station, is currently vacant.
Principal arguments in the application and its denial centered around vehicular traffic, interior circulation and parking.
The Jericho Turnpike entrance “presents a dangerous traffic hazard to the patrons of the convenience store” as well as the nearby office building and the general public according to village attorney John Spellman.
“Westbound vehicles approaching the property face a daunting task,” he continued, saying that sight distance is impaired by the Meadowbrook/ Northern State Parkway overpass. “The property comes up quickly to drivers in the northernmost lane,” while the lack of a turning lane across the double-yellow lines impedes entry from the south.
Trustee George Durham stated that he could see “that it’s going to be very dangerous for any of our residents” with the high rate of speed of traffic. “I have to believe that it’s a bad location.”
Once on the property, the interior lane can be “easily obstructed” by a customer backing out of one of the spaces on the east side of the property.
“A vehicle exiting the southernmost parking space on the east side must back up into the entrance lane in order to access one of the exits,” Spellman said.
The Jay Court curb cut presents “a serious logistical delay problems for exiting vehicles,” Spellman said, including insufficient space for cars to stack on Jay Court. Eastbound traffic could miss the turn onto Jay Court and then attempt to cross oncoming traffic to access the Jericho entrance.
“While the double-yellow line might dissuade some drivers from making this movement, experience in the village shows that many will take the risk,” Spellman said, adding that vehicles would “perform a dangerous movement” to enter the site.
Hazards on Jay Court also abound as only two vehicles can stack northbound south of the curbcut and north of Jericho, as well as the “extremely limited” 10 second green light time southbound Jay Court would compound problems Spellman said.
Trucks face the same hazard as other vehicles – that of blocked and blocking lanes – and those trucks entering via Jay Court could find their turning radiuses compromised, having “a great difficulty entering the site” on Jay Court.
Testimony at the October meeting stated that only box trucks would be used for deliveries, but Spellman stated that in the experience of the board, drinks such as beer and soft drinks are accomplished by means of tractor-trailer trucks and as such the plan “is in conflict with parking limits” as well as exiting vehicles from the office building.
Spellman also cited the engineers’ trip generation manual used in projecting traffic, saying that the board believed a more accurate picture would be made by analyzing “actual operational data” on comparable sized stores over a 24 hour period – information which 7-Eleven withheld, citing its “proprietary and private” nature. He added that since the board is denying the permit based on traffic issues, other issues such as aesthetics, signage, lighting, fencing, etc. need not be addressed.
Trustee Lawrence Werther predicted that 7-Eleven would take the village to court over the matter as was the case with the . Werther believed a better course of action would be to negotiate with the company, issue a permit “and we would hold them to it the same way this board held to the terms and conditions of their building permit.” In the interest of unanimity, Werther did vote in favor of the denial.
Spellman said that the village has no way of predicting if a suit will be filed or how a judge would rule. “We believe that this particular decision is defensible because it states straight out that it is unsafe for 7-Eleven to be at that premises,” he said.
Basing his decision “on my experience living in this community” and not on that of any prior board, deputy mayor Paul Pereira said that “based upon testimony the applicant did not meet the threshold for a special use permit” and that he was going to do “what’s right for the residents... and I can’t worry about what’s going to happen tomorrow.”