Editor's Note: This article was written and submitted by Chris Boyle.
The former Rite Aid location at the corner of Pea Pond Road and Jerusalem Avenue, which has sat vacant for nearly eight years, has recently been leased
to a new tenant: North Shore Farms, an upscale supermarket chain.
However, instead of generating excitement, the news of this new business in their community has left many residents instead displeased.
At October’s meeting of the North Bellmore Civic Association
, neighbors of the property expressed frustration and outrage over the potential quality of life issues a new supermarket would bring to their area.
Reinaldo Nuñez, president of the Civic Association, reported that he had previously done an initial investigation into the North Shore Farms chain.
“We went to one of the stores to check it out and see how the operation works,” Nunez said. “They seemed to be very clean, the operation was smooth and they answered all of our questions.”
But this was not enough to appease residents at the meeting, as possible concerns ranged from elevated traffic issues at the already busy intersection to offensive odors that could be caused by rotting food in the market’s dumpsters. Also, an increase in the local rat population was brought up, which is something that’s been an issue, according to people living in the area.
These concerns stem from similar reported problems caused by an A&P Supermarket at the same location many years ago, prior to Rite Aid. The severity of these problems prevented another food market – Western Beef – from taking up residence in the location when a memorandum was drawn up to prevent another supermarket from taking up residence there without first applying for a permit and a variance.
The existence of such a memorandum caused community members at the meeting to question how a lease for North Shore Farms could have already been signed, or why they weren’t informed sooner of the identity of the new tenant.
“When somebody signs a lease, that’s a private contract between them and the landlord,” Dan Checkla, who sits on the board of the Civic Association. “It has nothing to do with the zoning. If it turns out that the building is not zoned for that type of business, that’s going to be an issue, and that’s going to come up before the Town of Hempstead Zoning Board. They’re going to have to apply for a variance, and that’s when the residents are going to have an opportunity to have a say about what goes into their community, and that doesn’t.”Get local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone everyday with our free newsletter. Like Bellmore Patch on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
Legis. David Denenberg, D-Merrrick suggested a course of action for residents to take to make their voices heard.
“Perhaps we can reach out to whoever the applicant is, speak to them, and see what their intent is,” Denenberg said. “Maybe we can get them to back on it, but if they’re hell-bent on making a zoning application, then we’re going to have to organize and get ready for a hearing.”
“People in this area have been very, very successful lately with these sort of problems,” Deneberg added. “The most recent example is with the strip club in Wantagh what ultimately didn’t open due in part to the efforts of the community.”
According to Civic Association members, a hearing for variance to attempt to change business zoning laws can often take months to acquire, and all such hearings are open to the public to attend.This is a developing news story. Patch will provide more information as it’s made available.
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