Aquebogue could be the latest hamlet to get a 7-Eleven franchise.
A building permit application for the convenience store has been filed by the owners of Vinland Commons, a shopping center on Main Road near Tuthills Lane.
The proposed store would open in the southeast of the four buildings on the site, where 7-Eleven would also lease 3,000 square feet of that 8,971-square foot building. The plansm, which are on file in the Riverhead Town building department, have not yet been approved, but the application got a boost last month when a New York State Supreme Court justice sided with the developers in a long-running legal battle.
The Vinland Commons shopping center, previously known as Country Commons, had sued Riverhead Town in 2014 after the town denied a building permit for a convenience store on the property.
The town nixed the proposal because retail wasn’t allowed under the site’s zoning, which had been changed as part of the town’s 2004 master plan update.
Vinland sued the building department, the Planning Board, the Town Board and the town’s building and planning administrator, Jeff Murphree in an attempt to overturn that decision.
The shopping center’s owners argued that since retail had been allowed at the site, the convenience store should be grandfathered into the zoning. The company said the property had been used for retail since the 2004 zoning change like Arline’s Ski Shop and the Benjamin Moore paint store that used to be there.
In an Oct. 20 decision, State Supreme Court Justice Andrew Tarantino backed Vinland Commons, saying it “established that there have been retail uses on the subject property both before and after the rezoning.”
Mr. Tarantino said a town law that would have cancelled the retail zoning once the property was without a retail store for at least one year didn’t apply to this case, since he said at least one building on the site had remained a retail store.
The town “submitted no admissible evidence to establish that the nonconforming use was lost or discontinued,” the justice wrote.
Mr. Tarantino overturned the town’s rejection of the building permit and ordered the town to revisit its review of the application and to make a decision within 45 days of his decision. That deadline come next month.
Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz said the Town Board has not decided whether to appeal the decision or not.
He said the application for a 7-Eleven in the Vinland Commons site wouldn’t need to go through the Planning Board, since it only needs a building permit.
Vinland Commons principal Clete Galasso could not immediately be reached for comment.