Several liquor store owners are organizing opposition to a proposal for another such store in Huntington Station.
Milan Patel, who owns Huntington Wines & Liquors on West Jericho Turnpike, and Ken V. Babi, who owns West Hills Wines & Liquors on New York Avenue, have contacted numerous officials, including the State Liquor Authority and various town and school leaders, to raise their objections.
They oppose a license request by Sarvpreet Singh, who has applied for a permit to open Kevin's Discount Wines & Liquors at 295 W. Jericho Turnpike in Huntington Station.
The two men, who quickly brought together another 10 owners when they learned of the application, have two main objections: with 16 liquor stores already within 3.5 miles of the proposed store, the area doesn't need any more.
Note: Each star on the corresponding map indicates a liquor store.
They also say the store, in a space created between Harbor Freight and at the corner of West Hills Road and Jericho, would be too close to . By their estimates, the store would be just 130 feet from Whitman property, but meets state rules, which measures distances door to door.
"Having a high school so close, the applicant is bound to have issues with students that walk to and from school in the surrounding neighborhood," Patel wrote to the liquor authority.
They aren't shy about citing the harm they see could come to their business if the application wins approval.
"I went from making a very good living to barely making a living and I do work hard," Babi said. "You have an oversaturation of liquor sales in this area. I have a personal stake obviously," he said. "But to allow another liquor store in this area would seem a bit overkill."
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In addition to the many competitors, the group says that a population decline, along with increasing costs and tough economic conditions, are harming their businesses. Both say they are losing their customer base as people move away and that increased costs, such as state taxes, are seriously cutting into their ability to make a living.
As for the proximity to Whitman, South Huntington schools superintendent Dr. David Bennardo said the district would not step into the matter. "While our school district's primary concern is always the well-being of the children, it is inappropriate for us to get involved with this type of private business decision. We trust that whatever business opens in that location will act responsibly and be good neighbors in the community," he said.
"The Huntington community, already saturated with liquor stores, certainly does not need another located so close to a high school, especially when the three closest liquor stores are less than .8 miles from the applicant," the opposition merchants wrote recently in a letter for school board members.
The SLA notifies existing liquor stores of applications and invites comments. Owners can respond by stating their views and providing paperwork on the status of their businesses. Then a hearing will be scheduled in New York on the request. Babi and Patel said they plan to attend the hearing to oppose the application.
Babi and Patel cite other cases where New York State communities have fought back against allowing too many liquor stores in a neighborhood and won. They say other signs were quick to join the opposition to the new store, and plan to pursue their opposition at the SLA and with the Town Board.
Singh could not be contacted and the State Liquor Authority did not reply to a request for comment.