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Dec 2, 2008 12:02 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

7-Eleven may have its eye on Montauk

Dec 2, 2008 12:02 PM

Montauk residents are up in arms over rumors that a long vacant property in the hamlet may be the site of 7-Eleven convenience store.

The property, for many years a gas station, is owned by Peter Ferraro, who also owns the retail emporium Plaza Sports. The property is on the north side of Montauk Highway directly across the street from the IGA grocery store. It fronts on Fort Pond.

Mr. Ferraro could not be reached for comment on Monday or Tuesday at his home or at the Plaza Sports store.

At a meeting of the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee on Monday 
night, several dozen business 
owners and residents brainstormed how to stop a 7-Eleven franchise from opening there. Committee chairwoman Lisa Grenci said that she had 
spoken to one of Mr. Ferraro’s assistants and that she had confirmed the 7-Eleven plans were true. She said 
she had asked Mr. Ferraro to come to the meeting but he did not.

Two other Montauk business owners, Joe Gaviola and Marshall Prado, both said that representatives of the 7-Eleven Corporation had approached them with offers to purchase or lease their properties.

“They want to be here,” said Mr. Gaviola, who owns Gaviola’s Market near the harbor. “They came to me, they had a traffic analysis and everything all ready. I told them no. I was always worried that it would come back to bite me in the ass someday.”

Mr. Gaviola said the company had asked for a 17-year lease on his property with options for two 5-year extensions.

Mr. Prado, who owns a gas station downtown, had a similar experience with the company. “They came to us, too, and they had everything worked out and it was a very nice offer,” he said. “I kind of wish I had taken it now.”

One person at the meeting on Monday night said that they had been told by a town official that the owners of the 7-Eleven in Sag Harbor were the ones who had reached a deal with Mr. Ferraro. The Sag Harbor 7-Eleven was purchased in 2001 from former Sag Harbor mayor Bill Young by a private corporation and the manager of the store refused to identify the principals on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the 7-Eleven corporation, based in Texas, could not confirm that one of its franchises is planned for Montauk.

Tara Burke, an employee of the Town Planning Department, said that someone had called recently to inquire about what approvals would be needed to open a retail business at Mr. Ferraro’s property.

The former gas station property is zoned for retail use, which is how the gas station was categorized on the certificate of occupancy for the property. Because of the proximity to Fort Pond, which sits barely 50 feet out the building’s back door, the town and state Department of Environmental Conservation forced Mr. Ferraro to remove the in-ground gas tanks at the property in 2005. The building has been empty since then.

Some residents at Monday’s meeting said that perhaps the building could be deemed to have been abandoned because it had been empty for so long. But on Tuesday morning, Town Attorney John Jilnicki noted that an allowed use under area zoning could not be lost because of vacancy.

Switching businesses also does not require review and approval from the town’s Planning Board as long as the new business is retail, like the old one. A Planning Board site plan review would introduce considerations such as parking, septic issues and various other impacts on the community.

Residents at Monday’s meeting hoped any sort of obstacles to opening the store would convince the corporation to look elsewhere.

“How about putting some barriers in front of them,” resident Ray Cortell said. “A traffic study. Parking review. Basically just force it out for now. That’s the only thing I think we can do is come up with a list of barriers.”

Councilwoman Julia Prince said that there would not have to be a site plan review before the deal was inked but that it might be necessary if the new tenant required additional equipment, such as walk-in refrigerators, to be placed on the site. But, she said, a site plan review would likely not open a way for the town to stop the store from opening.

“The way it works is, a retail use can become any other retail use without going for site plan,” she said. “We can’t outlaw franchises. If they did have to go to site plan review, it’s not as though the Planning Board could keep them out just because they are a franchise, either.”

She noted that the store proposal would have to go before the Architectural Review Board for approval of any signs that would be place on the property or building facade.

Residents lamented the impacts the store, which they presumed would be open 24-hours a day, would have on Montauk.

Some criticized the town for not having purchased the lakefront property with Community Preservation Fund money. Ms. Prince said that the town had attempted to do so but had not been able to meet Mr. Ferraro’s price because CPF bylaws prevent paying more than 10 percent over the appraised value of a property, an offer Mr. Ferraro turned down.

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First a 7-11 , then McDonalds , then it really will be "THE END"
Time for the LOCALS to take back control.
Change is not always for the good.
By ELECTRICUTIONER (65), east islip/montauk on Dec 7, 08 6:34 PM
Its sad that the beginning [of corp. businesses] equals the end [of historic communities]. I wish this didn't equate. But lets be fair. 1. We are Americans.
2. That equates to opportunity for all. 3. Nobody owns Montauk. 4. When a community actively partakes in government, the likelihood of such things is lessened.
By montauknellie (27), Montauk on Sep 12, 10 8:56 AM
power tools, home improvements, building supplies, Eastern Long Island