North End residents weigh in at BOT meeting
Several North End residents attended the Floral Park Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 15, to express their concerns about the possibility of a 24-hour convenience store — namely, 7-Eleven — setting up shop on what has become known as the Sizzler property, located on the corner of Jericho Turnpike and Irving Avenue. That was not on the docket for the evening, however.
“A local paper advertised that there would be some presentations of actions taken relative to a proposed business establishment on Jericho Turnpike,” acknowledged Deputy Mayor Jim Rhatigan. “I have to suggest to you that while there was some initial conversations and communications with our building department relative to a proposed usage of what is now known as the Sizzler property … at this time, the building department still awaits submission of documentation from this proposed organization.”
Furthermore, if and when the application is submitted, it would first be submitted to the village’s architectural review board before being presented at a public hearing, Rhatigan said.
Trustee Mary-Grace Tomecki echoed Rhatigan’s explanation. At a North End Civic Association in October, “you may recall that a condition was that the application had to go before the Architectural Review Board [ARB] before the [board of trustees] would hear them. They never submitted an application with the ARB, and therefore they cannot be heard at this board,” she said.
As is customary at board of trustees meetings, Mayor Thomas Tweedy opened the floor to the audience after agenda items were completed. And while the board could not speak directly to questions about any potential new businesses eyeing the Sizzler property, they welcomed concerns brought forth by residents.
“I just want to get an understanding as to what the laws are in terms of 24-hour establishments. Is it something that is legal in the Incorporated Village of Floral Park?” asked Diana Anton, who resides on Irving Avenue, near the Sizzler parking lot.
Mayor Tweedy conceded that “there is precedent that exists in the Village of Floral Park,” referring to a small convenience store that is part of a gas station, which has been in operation for many years.
Anton noted that the store Tweedy was referring to is “barely a convenience store. It’s not independent of the gas station.” Going into the holiday season, at time when residents are encouraged more than ever to patronize local merchants, Anton suggested that shopping at 7-Eleven will take away from local businesses. She also questioned how and why other establishments were denied later business hours, citing Wendy’s and a 24-hour Rite Aid. “I just want to know what we can do to prevent [the 24-hour factor],” she asked.
Mayor Tweedy was thankful for Anton’s comments. “You brought up a couple of very good questions which will be important for this board to research as we go forward to represent your interests, however to speak directly to the issues of 24-hour establishments, who to stop it or how to make it work or otherwise would, I think, unfairly tarnish our ability to listen to the hearing that may or may not come before us,” he said.
Joanne Viola, who also resides on Irving Avenue questioned whether it would be plausible to submit a letter to the board of trustees signed by the residents who are opposed to having a 24-hour establishment on Jericho Turnpike. While Tweedy did not discourage such action, he suggested “it might be more effective” to wait until after any potential new business submits an application.
Viola also questioned whether a hotel could open up on the property in question – a notion that was vehemently denied by the board. Tweedy cited other hotels, a Comfort Inn and a Quality Inn, that are located further west along Jericho Turnpike but noted that those are in Queens County. “That type of structure would not be allowed in Floral Park,” he said. A multistory building like those would require too many variances.
Irving Avenue resident Tania Luzzi expressed concern about the noise that could accompany a 24-hour business adjacent to a residential street. “If there is a blaring car pulling in at three in the morning, that’s going to disrupt my family’s life. I have a major problem with that,” he said.
Speaking to Luzzi and the rest of the audience members, Tweedy applauded their “candor … tone … and manner in which you come here. I want you to understand and appreciate the fact that we work as hard as we can to represent your interests, but again we have interests that we represent all the time, and … we need to be impartial. … I appreciate your understanding,” he said.
Tweedy maintained that the property in question is a B1 zone, which is restrictive in nature in terms of what a business operation can and cannot do and does not always fit into an enterprise’s business model. For example, a convenience store such as a 7-Eleven would require a special permit for food use. Mayor Tweedy assured the audience that if and when an application is submitted to the Architectural Review Board, residents will be notified by the North End Civic Association.