Hardy Plumbing
February 09, 2011

A Big Gulp in 'Gansett?

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The reaction was more along the lines of "Heaven Help Us," than 'Oh, thank heaven." Last Thursday night at the East Hampton Town Board's regular meeting, a pair of Amagansett residents expressed concern that a 7-Eleven may be on the horizon for the hamlet.

Rona Klopman, chair of the Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee reported that she'd viewed a building permit and Architectural Review Board application for a retail use at the former Villa restaurant on Montauk Highway just east of the IGA shopping center. While the application doesn't note the new store will be a branch of the national chain, Klopman said workers at the site confirmed they were renovating the space to accommodate a 7-Eleven.

Elaine Jones also reported receiving a phone call about the pending arrival of the franchise convenience store.

The property owner, Rick Principi said, "We've been through the A.R.B. for a front elevation modification." He acknowledged 7-Eleven would be "a permitted use."

The arrival of a 7-Eleven sparked an outcry in Montauk last summer. Business owners and community members wondered how such a store could move in without a comprehensive site plan review, complaining that, as part of a national chain, the store would have an unfair competitive advantage over local mom and pop establishments. Town officials explained that if the use is permitted by zoning, only a building permit and ARB approval are necessary.

The same would be true in Amagansett, town attorney John Jilnicki advised last Thursday night. In New York State, municipalities can't regulate which retail business occupies a property if a retail use is allowed there, the attorney explained.

Nevertheless, Klopman looked askance at the failure to require applicants to list precisely what business they propose. She called for a moratorium "on these kinds of issues" until the town can review the law that allows landowners to refrain from revealing their plans with detail. Councilwoman Julia Prince said she favors analysis of aspects of projects that trigger site plan review.

Klopman and Jones both worried about the impact a 7-Eleven would have on other businesses in Amagansett, while Betty Mazur noted Amagansett is the only hamlet that doesn't harbor a chain establishment.

Supervisor Bill Wilkinson pointed out chain stores do exist in the hamlet, the Bass Shoe outlet being an example. He wondered if community members were upset about the franchise or about the proposed retail use. What if Brent's wanted to move to the site and create Brent's East, he mused.

If 7-Eleven opens, Brent's would be forced out of business, Jones predicted.

Additional reporting by Rick Murphy.


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