Board Says Not So Fast On 7-Eleven

       East Hampton Town officials are meeting this week to review the status of an Amagansett property where a new 7-Eleven store is planned.

       Although a building permit was issued on Jan. 30 for interior renovations to a former restaurant to create the store, Tom Preiato, the town’s chief building inspector, said Monday that a discussion would take place today about the zoning legalities involved and whether there was anything to preclude the planned 7-Eleven.

       Owned by members of the Principi family, the site, to the east of the Amagansett IGA, once held the Villa Prince restaurant, and then several other short-lived ventures. It has been shuttered for some time. Rumors of a 7-Eleven first surfaced three years ago when the exterior of the building was changed.

       Richard Principi, one of the property owners and a contractor who is doing the renovation work, confirmed last week that the family was in “final negotiations” regarding the new convenience store, which would be run by a franchisee.

       Before issuing the building permit, Mr. Preiato had consulted with town attorneys to ask whether the change in use of the building would necessitate the submission of a site plan application for planning board approval. He was told it would not.

       The town does not prohibit chain stores, and both a restaurant and a retail store are allowed in the central business zone where the property is located. A site plan review would have been required were the new use to increase the maximum occupancy of the site, but it will not.

       The opening of a 7-Eleven in Montauk and the rumors in 2011 that an Amagansett store was planned both engendered community discussion of potential increased traffic, impacts to local businesses, and other negative effects of the new chain stores, as well as vocal opposition.

       After an Amagansett resident expressed her opposition to the 7-Eleven at last Thursday’s town board meeting, Supervisor Larry Cantwell explained that the 7-Eleven parent corporation “chose a property that is zoned for a specific use. And they’re going to make use of that use, and they’re entitled to.”

       When Rona Klopman, another Amagansett resident, later asked the board to consider an anti-franchise law, and to take up a suggestion made by former Councilwoman Julia Prince in 2011 that the board consider revising what circumstances, under town code, trigger the need for a site plan review, the town attorney, Elizabeth Vail, passed Mr. Cantwell a note saying that town attorneys, the Planning Department, and the building inspector are “still reviewing the legalities of issuing the building permit” for the 7-Eleven.