7-Eleven has an application in front of the Town of North Hempstead Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) to build a store at 260 Plandome Rd. A scheduled hearing was set for Oct. 7, but was postponed due to feedback from residents and community groups that the meeting should be in the afternoon and not at the previously scheduled 2 p.m. A new date for the hearing has not been set.
An online petition was started to show support against the project, garnering 1,257 signatures as of publication. The petition, named “Protect Manhasset From 7-Eleven,” describes the increase of traffic on Plandome Road, the negative impact of quality of life and character on the downtown and an entrance and exit to Hillcrest Avenue for reasons the BZA should deny the application.
“We, the residents of Manhasset and surrounding areas, request that the TONH BZA deny the application from 7-Eleven to allow a conditional use permit for retail food sales submitted for the property located at 260 Plandome Rd.,” the online petition states. “A 7-Eleven will further erode the safety of residents as well as be adverse to the character of our neighborhood downtown ‘main street,’ Plandome Road.”
Alcohol and tobacco products sold at a potential 7-Eleven are major sticking points for the community against the project.
“It’s an additional outlet for alcohol and tobacco,” Manhasset Community Coalition Against Substance Abuse (CASA) Executive Director Jennifer DeSena said. “If it’s open 24 hours a day, it’s going to be a constant source of alcohol and tobacco that the overall community doesn’t need. We’re trying very hard to reduce the use of alcohol, tobacco and vaping.”
One influential community group, the Council of Greater Manhasset Civics Associations (Greater Coumcil), has brought this issue up repeatedly in their monthly meetings. They are fervently against the project and were a major force in getting the decision to delay the public meeting. Richard Bentley, president of the Greater Council, would like to see the meeting postponed for two years so the public can come and voice their concerns to the BZA in-person instead of on Zoom.
“They don’t care, they want to sell everything and everything that they can to make their business work,” Bentley said. “Manhasset already has a drinking problem. I think everybody knows that, everybody recognizes that. So why are we going to promote having it even more accessible?”
The drinking problem Bentley references is underage kids on the street drinking alcohol they bought illegally. Convenience stores, like 7-Eleven, have been suspected of knowingly selling alcohol to minors.
“The more stores you have in the community, the more competitive there will be with their pricing and possibly with not checking ID,” DeSena said. “They have a bad reputation for selling to underage kids.”
The 7-Eleven would have an adjacent parking lot, which has come under some ire. While Plandome Road does need more parking, residents are concerned by the potential increase in traffic with cars going in and out of the parking lot.
“From a pedestrian point of view, I think it’s also horrible,” DeSena said. “That is a very crowded block. There’s always traffic because of people picking up from school, people picking up from the train and people walking to the park.”
The curbside parking lot also presents a problem for pedestrians on the sidewalk. Earlier this year, a pedestrian was killed by a car close to this potential 7-Eleven location.
“That road has only one-lane traffic, it’s going to stop traffic,” DeSena explained. “If you have a pedestrian on the sidewalk, you hope that the cars are going to stop instead of making the turn across the sidewalk. It’s an accident waiting to happen.”
260 Plandome Rd. is currently an abandoned storefront that used to be Pace Automotive. Its parking lot is currently leased out and usually used by commuters for the LIRR. The run-down building is not the only one on Plandome Road, a main street that has been ignored for several years now.
“Obviously the building doesn’t look good, but at least there’s no pressure on that traffic,” DeSena said. “I mean that block is a terrible block. We need help from the Town of North Hempstead, but we need help planning that block. It’s unfortunate that it’s not an unincorporated area of town because we don’t have enough attention on that.”