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Judge rules against Riverhead Town in Aquebogue 7-Eleven case


Riverhead Town’s attempt to block a proposed 7-Eleven in Aquebogue hit another roadblock recently.

State Supreme Court Judge Andrew Tarantino ruled in May that the town cannot renew or reargue its case challenging an earlier court ruling approving the 7-Eleven. 

On Oct. 20, 2015, Judge Tarantino ruled that Riverhead’s building department must grant a building permit to Vinland Commons, which was seeking to locate a 7-Eleven in its shopping center at the northwest corner of Route 25 and Tuthills Lane. Vinland Commons, headed by Clete Galasso, had sued Riverhead Town in 2014 after the town denied a building permit.

The judge ruled that Vinland Commons had established that retail uses had been present in the shopping center before and after a 2004 rezoning that prohibited retail there.

In December, a petition opposing the plan, citing quality of life issues and signed by 32 residents, was presented to the Town Board. Town officials agreed to seek a renewal or reargument of the ruling that allowed the 7-Eleven.

But in a ruling dated May 23 of this year, Judge Tarantino, who also made the earlier ruling, wrote that a motion to reargue a case “must be based on matters of fact or law allegedly overlooked or misinterpreted by the court” in the prior ruling, and not to advance different arguments.

Likewise, he wrote that a move to renew a case must be based on new or additional facts not offered previously.

He said Riverhead’s court filings “fail to demonstrate that the court overlooked or misapprehended facts” in its previous ruling and that no new or additional facts were submitted by the town.

He denied the town’s request and the case was disposed on July 7.

Town attorney Bob Kozakiewicz said last week that the town can still appeal the ruling through the state appellate division.

In late 2015, partly as a response to the Aquebogue 7-Eleven application, the Town Board banned 24-hour operations in several zoning districts along Route 25, including the one in which Vinland Commons is located.

An attorney for 7-Eleven had vowed at the time to file a lawsuit challenging that zoning but has yet to do so.

The Town Board had also considered conducting a corridor study of zoning along Main Road in Aquebogue and Jamesport but dropped that idea following opposition from residents.

Photo caption: The site of proposed 7-Eleven in Aquebogue. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

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