Huntington officials said Wednesday that they'll fight back against a lawsuit filed by 7-Eleven protesting new regulations of freestanding convenience stores.
The suit, filed Oct.7 in state Supreme Court, challenges changes approved by the town in June after several community groups raised objections to plans for stores in their neighborhoods.
But Town Supervisor Frank Petrone and board members Mark Cuthbertson, Susan Berland and Mark Mayoka said the changes were necessary to control noise and maintain safety and traffic flow.
"We continue to stand by the regulations we have passed," Petrone said. "We feel they are on solid ground and we've done what is important for the communities. We’re not restricting ay of these stores."
The suit says that the new rules "will greatly impact 7-Eleven's ability to construct new freestanding stores within the town...as such, 7-Eleven will now be subject to a more onerous zoning process with respect to freestanding convenience stores" in certain zoning categories.
It also says, "as a result ...7-Eleven's ability to locate new viable parcels, which can fully comply with the ordinance, will be significantly diminished, thereby preventing or hampering 7-Eleven from developing new stores within the town."
Cuthbertson said the town had carefully studied the impact of convenience stores and concluded that they are "larger than normal traffic generators" and affected nearby residences "so we enacted a whole host of regulations meant to address those issues."
Several groups or individuals opposed to new stores in Centerport, Huntington Station and elsewhere backed the new regulations at Wednesday's press conference.
Kathy Lau, who said a plan for a 7-Eleven at Route 110 and Livingston Street would have put the store four feet from her house and added to traffic and noise problems, cited police accident data and reports that the average 7-Eleven store has 1,000 customers and seven deliveries a day. "This is a sensible modernization of zoning laws," she said.
Mayoka said, "Every resident of the town of Huntington has the right to quiet enjoyment. These convenience stores interfere with this right in that you have excessive noise and excessive traffic conditions and so I'm 100 percent in support of these regulations."
Cuthbertson said, "We have a number of mom and pop stores located in and operate successfully in the town of Huntington. 7-Eleven somehow thinks that they're being singled out and that they can't now operate stores or sites within the town of Huntington. We're here, united as a board, Democrat and Republican, to say that that is absolutely false."
Mary Ellen Hilsky of Centerport, who attended the press conference with her husband, Robert, and opposes a plan for a 7-Eleven on Route 25A, said, "People are just tired of corporations ignoring the will of the people, just because they can and they have the money."