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Campaign against Costco gas station

A group of residents and business owners are rallying against a proposal to build Long Island's first Costco gas station in Lawrence.

Costco Wholesale Corp., which sells discount gas to members only, is seeking a parking variance so it can add the gas station to its store at Rockaway Turnpike and Nassau Expressway. Hempstead Town's board of appeals is considering the request.

A group of residents -- and several owners of nearby gas stations -- attended the appeals board's meeting Wednesday to oppose the Costco application. Station owners said they could not compete with the chain's lower prices, while residents and other business owners said a Costco station would worsen problematic traffic.

"We have an overwhelming traffic situation here now," said Roy Meserole, owner of Meserole Funeral Home in nearby Inwood. "The quality of life suffers."

Hempstead's appeals board set an Aug. 1 date for a formal public hearing on the Costco proposal.

The appeals board put off Wednesday's scheduled hearing after an attorney for an opposing gas station owner asked that it be pushed back so the owner could solicit a traffic study.

Daniel Baker, an attorney for Costco, said opponents' concerns about losing business are not a basis for the town to reject the proposal. He said the traffic concerns are unsupported. "This is not something that should hold any sway," he said.

Costco wants to install three 30,000-gallon storage tanks and 22 pumps. It plans to take 163 of its 822 parking spaces to make room for the station. The town normally requires 775 spaces for a store of Costco's size.

Costco also needs town board approval before it can build the gas station. The board held a public hearing on the request in April and has not scheduled a date to vote, town officials said.

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