By Andrew Wroblewski
As a next-door neighbor to East Northport’s Speedway gas station, William Foley said he is typically disturbed by activity at the station – sometimes late into the night.
“They get fuel deliveries after 11 o’clock at night. I get garbage thrown over the fence in my backyard, right now, from people hanging around in the parking lot,” Foley said during a public hearing at the Sept. 16 Huntington town board meeting. “It’s a disturbance.”
And it might get worse.
Under applicant Hess Corp., Speedway is seeking a zone change that would allow the company to build a 1,600-square-foot, 24-hour convenience store on the property at the intersection of Fort Salonga Road and Catherine Street, while also renovating the station.
Kevin O’Brien, an attorney representing the applicant, said during the hearing that Speedway can’t perform renovations, including replacing underground storage tanks, without the zone change from a C7 to C11. The convenience store would be a means to fund those improvements. “We’re trying to accommodate as much as we possibly can,” O’Brein said during the hearing.
Board members, however, raised concerns, pointing out what appear to be several variances that would be required for the plan to move forward, including those pertaining to how close the proposed structure would be to surrounding properties.
Residents also questioned the need for a convenience store on a stretch of Fort Salonga Road that’s already cluttered with retail, several supermarkets and convenience stores can be found within a one-mile radius of the gas station.
“What is this proposed convenience store going to bring to our community? We already have it. All within a mile span,” William Foley, Jr., also a neighbor to the gas station, said. “We don’t want it, we don’t need it.”
Councilman Mark Cuthbertson also pointed out that Speedway is one of the few gas stations on the stretch of Fort Salonga Road, with the next western-most gas station being four miles away from Speedway.
“This particular station is very, very active,” Cuthbertson said, acknowledging that competition has come and gone. “With the rest of those gas stations going out, this one pumps a lot of gas. In terms of its economics, it seems that it’s a gas station that could sustain itself because it does a high-volume of gasoline sales.”
Kevin Papasian, another attorney representing the applicant, disagreed.
“Speedway does not refine oil. They’re not making big profits like ExxonMobil and these big oil companies throughout the world,” Papasian, of Northport, said during the hearing. “Each site has to be self-sustainable. This site is not self-sustainable. If it was, we wouldn’t be trying to rebuild it.”
“Speedway has selected this location, as well as Hess, for reconstruction,” added Andy Laudenbacher, of Hess in New Jersey. “It’s a tired old gas station and we’d like to clean it up, fix it and make it attractive and useful to the neighborhood.”