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Mattituck 7-Eleven Owner Says Without Opening Layoffs Are Imminent

Tony Cocheo tells Southld Town Planning Board that even another two weeks is too long to wait to open the new Mattituck 7-Eleven.

Tony Cocheo, owner of the yet-to-open on the corner of Route 25 and Factory Avenue, told Southold Town Planning Board members at a work session Monday night that if there is even another two weeks' delay of the opening he will have to lay off the nine employees he’s already hired and trained.

“I’ve already put up $400,000.” he said. “This is a tremendous financial problem. In another two weeks we’ll be going into December — the slowest time of year. And I can’t pay these people — I just can’t now.”

Construction on the site is complete except for the removal of a utility pole on the northeast corner of the intersection used by Verizon and Cablevision. But Cocheo’s attorney Patricia Moore said she only recently found out that the state Department of Transportation did not schedule that work to be done until spring. And until that work is done, a curb cut at that corner required in the project’s site plan cannot be built. Therefore, the Planning Board cannot issue a certificate of occupancy and the store cannot open for business.

Property owner George Abi Zeid of GAZ Realty said that he too could not have foreseen the delay by DOT, and that even if the work is delayed there is no safety issue concerning routine traffic at the site. He and Cocheo have two bonds with DOT in order to pay for the work and cannot afford the $100,000 to complete the work themselves without those bonds.

“We don’t have enough money to move the pole,” Abi Zeid said. “You know, we could take this property back and start from scratch, but we don’t want to do that, we want to move forward. We have two bonds in place and the work will be done — but as it stands right now it does not affect traffic coming in and out of the property.”

Assistant Town Attorney Jennifer Andaloro said that if it can be proved that the site is safe to the public without removal of the pole, the resolution to approve a certificate of occupancy would have to be amended for it to be effective, and that resolution would have to be voted on during the Planning Board’s regular meeting at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 14 — in two weeks.

Cocheo reiterated to board members that two weeks was too long to keep paying employees. The plan for this 7-Eleven was bitterly contested for years by several members of the community.

“The concern in the community had more to do with the added traffic the store would bring to Factory Avenue, not technicalities in the parking lot,” he said. “All I’m asking you for is a decision, because you are jeopardizing a business person and employees financially.”

Planning Board Chair Martin Sidor said that he, as a , sympathized completely with Cocheo but said that it’s the board’s obligation to think about liability issues the town might face and to protect the people of Southold Town.

“I don’t want to hurt anyone here — I don’t want to be in this situation either,” Sidor said. “I wish the thing was open. But we have to make sure that it’s a safe place.”

The Planning Board has changed their monthly regular public meeting time from 6 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. from November through March at

William Swiskey sr November 03, 2011 at 02:30 AM
Again a simple statement show us the estimates for the work.
Mark Raplee November 03, 2011 at 02:59 AM
That's incorrect. New underground tanks had already been put in by the old landlord The new landlord, George Abi Zeid refused to do any maintance or have the necessary permits renewed. We did not abandon the property, we were put out of business.
BOB PALADIN November 05, 2011 at 11:02 AM
fact is if you move the pole or give the c of o the DOTill commence a costly lawsuit vs the town DOT HAS DEEP POCKETS DO WE .. THE OWNER SCREWED THE POOCH WHY HELPN HIM
William Swiskey sr November 05, 2011 at 12:36 PM
How many accidents happened here with Citco and the Ice cream shop, 25% don't want it and they have the politicos ear. If there really worried about white crosses, shut down the wineries, I seen more close calls at these locations. I wonder if BOA was involved. I like a public referendum to see what people really think is unsafe.
Joanna Lane November 06, 2011 at 12:23 AM
I don't think anyone is in the mood for losing 9 jobs for reasons of a bureaucratic logjam over a wooden pole. We have been driving around numerous downed trees, blocked road ends and utility poles leaning precariously over the road for the last few months. This pole is standing upright and we already know it's there. Please save these jobs and open the store.

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