Huntington board poised to approve Centerport 7-Eleven

Brian Rathgaber at his auto repair shop in Brian Rathgaber at his auto repair shop in Centerport. (May 15, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

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The Huntington Town Zoning Board of Appeals appears ready to approve an application from 7-Eleven to build a stand-alone store on a busy Centerport intersection.

At a meeting last week, the board directed its attorney, James Matthews of Huntington, to draft a decision approving the application with conditions. The board is scheduled to give its final decision at its meeting Thursday night at 6 at Town Hall.

The company wants to build a new convenience store in place of a longtime auto shop at Route 25A and Little Neck Road. The proposal has divided residents in the small North Shore hamlet. Some are concerned about increased traffic at the already busy intersection, but others favor having a store there.

The zoning board's decision wasn't complete last week, but one of the conditions the board has publicly discussed was requiring 7-Eleven representatives to reappear in front of the board 12 to 15 months after its certificate of occupancy is issued to make sure the corporation is complying with the conditions. Other possible conditions discussed include mandating the use of smaller box trucks, rather than tractor trailers, for deliveries, and abiding by recommendations made by traffic consultants.

Brian Rathgaber and Shawn Meaney own the automotive shop, formerly a gas station, and want to sell the property. They say they can no longer afford to stay there and have found a cheaper site for their business about a mile away in Greenlawn.

"We are certainly encouraged by the direction the board appears to be going," said attorney Thomas Abbate of Woodbury, who is representing Rathgaber.

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"It has been a long and tedious process and we're thrilled with the result and we think the community will be, too," Abbate said.

Rathgaber and Meaney signed a deal with 7-Eleven in May 2010 and the corporation submitted its pre-application to the town the following April. About two months later, the town board approved a code change that imposed new regulations on applications for free-standing convenience stores.

The new regulations include several requirements, such as a special-use permit from the zoning board and a minimum lot size of 25,000 square feet, according to town documents.

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Before the changes, 7-Eleven would have been permitted to build a store there without appearing in front of the zoning board, according to a company statement. If approved, 7-Eleven's application goes next to the town planning board.

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