The State Supreme Court has upheld a decision by the Mineola Village Board denying a permit preventing the construction of a 7-Eleven convenience store on East Jericho Turnpike on the site of a former Amoco gas station on the corner of Jay Court.
“We were victorious in the 7-Eleven lawsuit, this round of it,” Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss said during the Oct. 10 meeting of the village board at village hall.
7-Eleven’s argument in court was that the village had acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner in denying the application since the convenience store giant in its opinion had satisfied all requirements of the village code for such a store, that there was another 7-Eleven already in the village and that a hearing for another store had taken place just before their hearing and which was approved.
While there were many issues that both the board and residents took issue with, particularly litter, quality of life, safety, traffic and noise and light pollution, the case the village made in court was one of vehicular safety. At a hearing on Oct. 12, 2011, representatives from 7-Eleven detailed their plans for the site, which included curb cuts on Jericho Turnpike and Jay Court as well as the construction of a 2,500 sq. ft. store, which would operate 24-hours a day. The hearing was for a special use permit to sell food at the location, without which they could not operate.
Deliveries made through several “box trucks” would occur throughout the week, with vehicular traffic coming up from Jericho Turnpike and parking in a small designated loading zone space about 25-ft. wide on the eastern side of the building. Concern for the exiting of these trucks was brought up, including the relatively small space in the parking lot for them to maneuver as well as the curb cut on Jay Court, in which traffic from the light at the intersection of Jericho Turnpike might back up significantly as to prevent entrance/ egress. 7-Eleven did agree to make certain changes in its design and the layout and to conduct a noise study and to only use box trucks for deliveries.
In court documents, 7-Eleven argued that while it had produced witnesses who were traffic and site engineers – conducting studies on both – the residents who spoke out against the construction of the store had no such qualifications. It also read that “Nor did the board engage experts to review this application.”
However, the village’s main point of argument was safety at both the proposed curb cuts and inside the parking lot upon which it made its decision on denying the application. Court documents read that the parking lot “could easily be obstructed by a convenience store patron backing out of one of the parking spaces located on the east end of the property” and “a vehicle exiting the southernmost parking space on the east side must back up to the entrance lane in order to access one of the exits from the property.”
Similar safety issues were raised if a patron traveling west missed the turnoff or one traveling east would miss Jay Court and then attempt to cross the double-yellow line turning into oncoming traffic. Delivery vehicles could also cause similar hazards in terms of blocking traffic lanes on the property when they back up from the loading dock or pull into the property.
The nature of the appeal only allowed the court to make a decision as to if the board had in fact acted arbitrarily and if so, would have returned the case to the village for another hearing on the permit.
“The primary concern of the board was safety and the court agreed with the board,” village attorney John Spellman said after the decision from Judge Michelle Woodard was issued.
While the corporation has 30 days to appeal, “hopefully they’ll see the light and will not appeal but that’s one good step in our direction.” the mayor said.