After more than a year of discussion and public outcry, members of the voted unanimously to OK a new 7-Eleven, which will be located at the corner of Factory Avenue and Route 25 in Mattituck, the current site of a closed Citgo gas station.
The plan calls for the conversion of the existing 1,985-foot gas station and convenience store space to a 2,670 square-foot convenience store, including the construction of a 685 square-foot addition, in the town's business zone.
The approval came with one condition — a request that the applicant secure a letter from the New York State Department of Transportation, saying they were fine with the go ahead. The DOT had asked that the board double check the safety requirements on the proposed highway curb cut.
Planning board member Bill Cremers prefaced his voted by saying that he was "going to vote no. But I looked at the plans this morning and think that they met safety requirements."
Developer Abi Zeid of GAZ Realty has been before the board during the course of the year regarding the hot button application, offering a bevy of changes to the plan, including expanded parking, to mitigate residents' concerns.
During the past year, residents have galvanized to try and put the brakes on the project, which they believe will pose several problems in the hamlet, including traffic issues and a threat to small mom-and-pop shops and delis that are already struggling to survive in the current economic climate.
Protestors gathered to demonstrate last fall, waving signs and expressing their outrage that their hamlet was once again targeted for increased density.
"We had ,1260 people sign petitions against that 7 Eleven," said Art Tillman, Mattituck resident and chairman of the. "I was told when I presented that petition to the Town Board that it was one of the largest petitions ever presented. So obviously, we are very disappointed."
Leroy Heyliger, deacon at the, said his concern and that of his congregants centers on an influx of truck traffic he believes the new 7-Eleven will spark. Heyligher said Factory Avenue, where his church is located, has already been adversely affected by the preponderance of trucks that pass through to reach , located just west of the proposed 7-Eleven site.
"Those trucks are destroying our property as they're backing up," he said.
"This will be a campaign issue," promised Tillman. "It's the same old, same old."
Tillman feels a lack of planning has led to a proliferation of development similar to that in Riverhead — "a Route 58 East, in Mattituck," he said.
Tillman added that voices of the public were ignored in the decision.
"Most of the plans in Southold Town end up in the basement of Town Hall – along with our 1,200-plus signatures on that petition, which was put right in the pile with that plans that never come to fruition," he said. "This just infuriates me."
Developers of a in Mattituck a number of years ago at the site of the former bowling alley on Route 25, just across the street from the proposed 7-Eleven, were met with similar resident resistance, as was the creation of a on Route 25.