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February 19, 2014

Inconvenient Decision For 7-Eleven


By Kitty Merrill

The Montauk 7-Eleven, the highest grossing of its ilk in the nation according to a New York Post report over the weekend, isn't going to have competition from Amagansett any time soon.

Last Friday afternoon town officials decided to rescind a January 30 building permit green-lighting the construction of the convenience store in the hamlet.

As predicted in a previous edition of The Independent, after taking a closer look at a planning department file that dates back to the '80s, the chief building inspector, town attorney and planning department determined a site plan review would be required before a convenience store could be situated in the old Villa Prince Ristorante on Montauk Highway.

"The subject property has a complicated history with multiple prior planning reviews and approvals issued over the last 40 years. The building permit was issued in error because full consideration of the property's planning history was originally omitted," Town Attorney Elizabeth Vail wrote in a memo summarizing the decision to rescind the permit.

The property owner's failure to fulfill the conditions of a 1983 subdivison of the property, which is located east of the IGA, was one problem cited. Since the subdivision was never completed, it is invalid, Vail wrote. An earlier site plan approval from 1977 was rendered void in 1997 as what was authorized back then – a restaurant, four retail stores and a tennis court – wouldn't be permitted now.

Further review will have to be conducted to figure out whether conditions of the original site plan approval were met, particularly as they apply to parking requirements. "As such site plan review for parking is likely required as well," Vail wrote. Although retail is a permitted use on the property, site plan approval must be obtained, Vail asserts.

That means the owners of the site – members of the Principi family – will have to endure an extensive review and additional costs before the store could ever open. The review will include a public hearing and, given the opposition to the presence of a national chain store that's been voiced by hamlet residents already, that input session could be harsh. Despite that fact, if other facets of an application are provided, public opposition alone is not grounds for the denial of a site plan.

Speaking with The Independent about a potential rescinding earlier this month, Vail said she realized such a move could open the town to a lawsuit. In Friday's memo, however, she wrote, "There is ample authority in the law to allow the Town to rescind a building permit issued in error and it is well settled that vested rights cannot be acquired in reliance upon an invalid permit." The erroneous issuance of the permit doesn't stop a municipality from correcting errors, she said, "even when there may be harsh results."

kmerrill@indyeastend.com.

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