Hess sued over town’s denial for Mattituck station, but case is dropped

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Hess Corporation attorney sought business community support for a gas station building when he appeared before the Mattituck Chamber of Commerce in January. TIM

Even before the fracas over the Mattituck 7-Eleven came to a boil, town officials had another convenience store fight on their hands.

But in that case, public opinion wasn’t divided and, although the matter eventually spawned litigation, it ended quietly.

The Hess Corporation has abandoned plans to add a 24-hour convenience store at its gas station on the corner of Main Road and Bay Avenue. The company had agreed to remove the case from the state Supreme Court calendar and the time to reinstate it has long since expired.

“The case is marked as ‘disposed,’ which is the legal term for it’s over,” said Jennifer Andaloro, assistant Southold town attorney.

In 2003 Hess applied for a change of zone from Marine Commercial to General Business. The marine zone is a holdover from when the property was part of the boat business on James Creek immediately to the south. The company needed business zoning to pursue construction of a 1,660-square-foot store. The original application was for a shop 50 percent larger.

While the 7-Eleven project has strong support on both sides, the Mattituck community was largely against the 24-hour Hess Mart.

The two objections most frequently voiced were its potential impact on existing stores and its potential for changing Mattituck’s character.

The 7-Eleven’s operating hours have not played a significant role in that debate.

The town had a reason to feel confident in its defense of the suit. In New York, municipalities are under no obligation to entertain zone change applications.

A more recent Town Board decision made the Hess matter all but moot. To control the proliferation of gas station convenience stores, the Town Board voted last year to limit their size to just 800 square feet, half of what Hess had planned. Even if the company won the zoning challenge, town law would still not permit that project as submitted without a variance.

Early this year, Hess made one last ditch attempt to drum up local support when company attorney Eugene DeNicola made his case to the Mattituck Chamber of Commerce.

“We want to work it out and have something that’s more attractive than what’s there,” he said during a January chamber meeting.
Local business owners were not supportive, some pointing out that the corporation was not a chamber member. When asked what Hess had done to support the community, the attorney said, “We sell gasoline.”

He did not return a request for comment this week.

[email protected]