Written by Rich Forestano Thursday, 14 November 2013 00:00
Bolla Market will be back in front of the Mineola Village Board Wednesday, Nov. 13 to answer and hear public comment from residents on its plan to construct a 24-hour Exxon gas station and convenience store at 449 Jericho Turnpike.
The site abuts residential homes.
Bolla Market CEO Harry Singh did not get a warm welcome the first time around, on Oct. 9. More than 90 residents attended the meeting.
White Road resident Stan Wojis has lived near the site since 1980. He opposes the 24-hour gas station.
“I think the residents deserve a little bit of peace at night,” he said in a phone interview. “Bolla has a great business model and the sites he owns are really nice. We’re not against Harry Singh. It’s just not the right spot for a 24-hour convenience store. It’s a quality-of-life issue.”
Mayor Scott Strauss ordered the hearing adjourned and reopened this week to give Singh time to address resident concerns and give locals who left the meeting a chance to comment. Deputy Mayor Paul Pereira said last week the hearing was “quite long.”
“We want to make sure the residents are heard,” he said.
Trustee Paul Cusato also thinks everyone deserves a chance to speak.
“As a resident and taxpayer, you have every right to express your concerns at that podium."
Singh wants to build a 2,250- square-foot station on the property, which he bought 19 months ago. The site would hold six 2-sided gas pumps and one store, if approved.
The property is zoned for a gas station, which was built on the property in 1959 but suffered a fire and was torn down six years ago.
Bolla argued at that meeting the site needs a freestanding store because of New York gas taxes, which are among the highest in the country. The store would take up 11 percent of the lot if built.
Singh did not return calls seeking comment for this story.
“I have been very upfront with all the residents that have asked for multiple things,” Singh said at the October meeting. “The reason I did that is to show the local community that we want to be part of the community.”
Mineola resident Mike Tinghitella was concerned with rumors that there was a “grandfather clause” concerning the site, meaning a gas station could be built there no matter what. The site is zoned for a gas station, but according to village officials, an application that specifies food sales requires village board approval.
“I just heard [grandfathering] mentioned so I was curious,” Tinghitella said. “People keep throwing out that term.”
Village attorney John Spellman said there is a provision in the village code that if a site is abandoned for more than six months, the prior permit has to be reviewed.
“Grandfathering does not enter into the picture,” he said.