A lawsuit brought by a neighbor of the Empire gas station site on East Hampton’s North Main Street, challenging a Zoning Board of Appeals decision that paved the way for construction of a convenience store on the property, has been dismissed in Suffolk County Supreme Court.
In an Oct. 5 decision, Justice W. Gerard Asher upheld the zoning board’s decision and dismissed the matter “in its entirety.”
Attorneys for the property owners at the Scarlato and Baldwin firm in Sag Harbor could not immediately be reached to determine if and when construction will begin.
Residents of the neighborhood, including Jeffrey Slonim, the plaintiff in the suit, who lives two doors down from the gas station, had said the addition of a convenience store would add traffic and parking problems in an area already inundated and hard to navigate. “Traffic is already terrible on North Main. Parking, nil,” Mr. Slonim wrote in a 2011 letter to the Z.B.A..
The owners of the property, Ali Yuzasioglu and S&A Petroleum Group, received site-plan approval in October 2010 from the town planning board to replace two existing buildings, which have housed a barber shop and a car rental business, with one store building of an equivalent size.
Mr. Slonim initially challenged that decision with an appeal to the Z.B.A. asserting that a certificate of occupancy for the property was issued erroneously.
Tom Preiato, the senior building inspector, had issued a certificate permitting occupancy by a motor vehicle repair garage, with gas pumps, and two buildings that could house “central business” uses, as defined by the zoning code. That includes retail stores.
Mr. Slonim and his attorney, Michael Walsh of Water Mill, argued that a town law prohibiting filling stations and retail stores on the same property should prevail. However, Mr. Preiato found that the retail uses on the property pre-existed that code and therefore could continue, and the Z.B.A. upheld his ruling.
Mr. Walsh said yesterday that he was “not at liberty” to discuss whether his client would appeal. “Judge Asher is a well-respected jurist, and we respect his opinion. But we are reviewing it, and we will make that decision in the coming days,” he said.