Resident of Bardonia are still trying to fight a proposed 24/7 QuickChek deli and gas station from moving onto the corner of Route 304 and Barton Road, and now they are starting to raise money to hire an attorney in hopes of proving the QuickChek proposal as illegal.
At a Bardonia Civic Association meeting Thursday night at the St. Francis of Assisi Church in West Nyack, Association member Michael Hull started taking pledges of $200 from those who are opposed to the QuickChek and would like to hire an attorney to help. Hull set the deadline for collecting pledges at June 30, with hopes that somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000 will have been pledged by then.
If the total falls within Hull’s desired numbers, he’ll then collect the money and hire an attorney who the group has already agreed upon. He said the money being pledged can be checks made out to the attorney.
“There are grey issues in the legal sense with the proposal,” Hull said. “We just want to let an attorney look it over for us and possibly go to court. And then whichever way it goes in court will be fine. That’s why we have the courts.”
Hull handed out packets of information to those attending the meeting that included notes copied straight from the minutes of the Planning Board files that dealt with past meetings held in regards to the QuickChek proposal. The legal grey area in Hull’s mind comes from the usage of the gas pumps already on the site where the proposed QuickChek would go.
According to the notes in Hull’s handout from a meeting on March 15, 2011, in that zoning district, “gas stations are not a permissible use.” It says the Planning Board will need a “written interpretation from the Building Inspector or Zoning Administrator regarding the alteration/enlargement of this already removed non-conforming use and whether a variance will be needed from the Zoning Board of Appeals...”
The non-conforming use is where Hull thinks an attorney could help the people of Bardonia who don’t want the QuickChek. Since the prior gas pumps were there before the zoning ordinance, those pumps can not be taken away, so they are declared non-conforming use of the property.
“It’s a different business,” Hull said. “So why should they keep the non-conforming use of property?”
Another issue Hull pointed out is that in the proposed plan, the gas pumps were slated to go where the former bank currently stands.
“That’s not even on the same property as the original non-conforming use of property,” he said. “Just because the same person owns it and decides it’s going to all be one lot doesn’t mean you can just move where the first non-conforming use was.”
Dick Mills of Bardonia is opposed to the QuickChek as well, but is not sure if hiring an attorney is the right move for those opposed to it. His concern was that initially the group will hire an attorney, and then the attorney’s fees will keep coming and the group will have to pay even more money after the initial pledges.
Still, Mills doesn’t think the QuickChek is a good idea.
“To increase the traffic [on Bardonia Road] is crazy,” he said. “It will just be an inconvenience for the people of Bardonia.”
Mills, as well as Hull, made note that the 40 or so people who came to the meeting was a relatively small number when compared with the number of people who actually oppose the QuickChek. One reason both stated for the low number was that Thursday night was also Bardonia Elementary School’s graduation.
“As we get closer, there’s going to be an uproar,” Mills said.
Clarkstown Principal Town Planner Joe Simoes was at the meeting, as well, but said he did not have much information to tell the Association, as the application has not been officially submitted. The next Planning Board meeting is tentatively scheduled for July 20, so that is the next opportunity for the official application to be filed with the Planning Board. Since there has not been an application yet, Simoes said, the Planning Board can not schedule public hearings about the QuickChek.
Deputy Town Attorney Jeffrey Millman was also at the meeting to answer questions from the public about their concerns, some of which he said are out of his hands.
“There are certain things we can’t govern,” he said.
One thing was the hours of operation for the convenience store. Some voiced concerns about the store’s 24/7 policy, and how that might negatively affect the neighborhood, or bring people into Bardonia at unwanted times. Another issue brought up is that the plan says that from Bardonia Road, drivers could get into the parking lot, but will not be able to go back out onto Bardonia Road. They will have to exit onto 304.
“If someone lives on or right off Bardonia Road and wants to go get a cup of coffee and the paper, are they really going to want to go there when they can’t get right back onto their street," asked Hull? "I don’t think so.”
The QuickChek would also be near Bardonia Elementary, and many were concerned about the increased traffic in the area combined with young kids walking to and from school. Some people were also concerned about the sale of alcohol at the convenience store, but Millman said that’s another issue that while there are laws about, as long as the store owners follow those laws, they can sell alcohol there.
“We’re here to help steer and guide this so the people are satisfied,” Millman said. “We’re working hard for you. We have no reason to quickly push something along just to push it along.”
Still, Millman reminded the crowd that the application hasn’t been submitted yet, and all the plans are just preliminary ones.
“I can’t tell you where the building is going,” he said. “I can’t tell you what size the building is going to be. I can’t tell you what the facade will look like. All I can tell you is what they want.”
At the start of the meeting, Clarkstown Town Supervisor Alex Gromack spoke to the crowd about various topics, including some estimates about the new Nanuet Mall. Gromack said the plan as of now is to demolish the current sometime around September of this year and start building the new one around May of 2012 with hopes of opening sometime around the holiday season of 2013. He also said the plan is for the new mall to be a more outdoor and upscale type mall, and that when it is time, the planners will attend meetings with the public in places such as the Bardonia Civic Association.
The next Bardonia Civic Association meeting will be October 10.