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Proposed 7-Eleven back to drawing board

A Suffolk County Supreme Court justice has found

A Suffolk County Supreme Court justice has found that the Town of Huntington's zoning board failed to thoroughly research the environmental impact of a proposed 7-Eleven in Centerport, derailing efforts to build the convenience store. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

A Suffolk County Supreme Court justice has found that the Town of Huntington's zoning board failed to thoroughly research the environmental impact of a proposed 7-Eleven in Centerport, derailing efforts to build the convenience store.

Darrin Berger, a Huntington-based attorney for the coalition that sued in June 2013 to annul the Zoning Board of Appeals' approval of the business, said his clients were pleased with the decision.

"We will be vigilant, and we will be sure the town complies with every aspect of the environmental review," he said.

The project now goes back to the ZBA, said James Matthews, the ZBA's attorney. If 7-Eleven and Harborfields Realty LLC -- which owns the property -- choose to continue pursuing the project, the process will start over and require more detailed assessments.

Attorneys for 7-Eleven and Harborfields did not return calls for comment.

Judge Andrew Tarantino Jr. found that the ZBA failed to meet the procedural obligations imposed by the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA).

"The Huntington ZBA failed to take the requisite 'hard look' at the relevant areas of environmental concern and failed [to] give a reasoned elaboration for its determination of no environmental significance," Tarantino wrote in a decision dated Oct. 15.

Tarantino's main objection was that the environmental impact studies had to do with traffic and did not address other possible environmental ramifications of a convenience store at 2 Little Neck Rd., site of a former gas station.

Another problem was that the ZBA had the study conducted at the end of the process when the law mandates it at the beginning. As a result, the public did not have a chance to respond, Berger said.

"I respect the court's decision," Matthews said. "My view is that the zoning board did comply with SEQRA. They did an exhaustive review of all of the environmental issues raised, which were traffic-related."

The board approved the application with several conditions related to traffic, including one that would have limited the 7-Eleven to only accept deliveries from small trucks.

The suit was brought by Centerport Harbor Civic Association, three residents and a business owner.

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