Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 19 October 2012 00:00
7-Eleven felt the village board reached its decision based solely on local constituent outcry, rather than evidence and findings presented to the board at public hearings. Mineola denied the store’s application on March 14.
According to court documents obtained by the Mineola American, Judge Michele M. Woodard stated that 7-Eleven alleged the village’s denial was “illegal, unjust, an abuse of discretion and not based upon substantial evidence.” Legal reps of the store said in the documents that the court should “grant an injunction compelling [Mineola] to issue [7-Eleven] all municipal approvals and permits required” to build the store.
The size of the project, coupled with the fact that it impacts a residential road, Jay Court, which is sandwiched between two very busy roads in Hillside Avenue and Jericho Turnpike factored heavily into the denials by both Mineola and the court. The court documents noted that ALG felt testimonies by four expert witnesses from traffic and civil engineers met “or exceeded all applicable zoning criteria.”
Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss predicted in May that the decision would hold up in court. “We were victorious in the 7-Eleven lawsuit,” Strauss said in a phone interview on Oct. 10. “They have 30 days to appeal. Hopefully they’ll see the light and will not appeal. But [the court ruiling] is one good step in our direction.”
ALG did not return calls seeking comment.
The current lawsuit is similar to one filed several years ago when the board denied an application for a 7-Eleven at the intersection of Jericho Turnpike and Emory Road on the southwest corner. The company filed an Article 78, which challenges decisions made by public entities, but the village’s decision was upheld in court. Enterprise-Rent-A-Car currently sits at that location.
Nine years ago, Mineola was locked in legal debates with 7-Eleven over the current store, which now sits down the block from Village Hall. Harlen Associates (HA) planned to build that store, but the board denied that application.
HA contended that the board arbitrarily denied its permit based solely on community opposition, much like ALG. In turn, HA filed an Article 78 and succeeded.
The key difference between the previous cases is that before the store on Mineola Boulevard was built, a gas station/conven-ience store dubbed “Busy-Bee” previously called the spot home. This aided HA in getting the board’s ruling overturned. Concerning the location near Emory Road, it was not previously zoned for that use, hence the village’s victory.
“By the end of the month, we’ll know one way or the other,” Strauss said of whether the store will appeal. “It seems the court sided with us and our ability to make decisions based on our knowledge and experience in the village and the area, rather than [the court] saying ‘you have to let [7-Eleven] in.’”