GREENBURGH, N.Y. – A proposed Edgemont gas station has sparked a debate of business competition versus local loyalty.
Several residents are speaking out against the town’s attempts to update its zoning code, a move that, if approved, would clear the way for a Cumberland Farms convenience store and gas station to be rebuilt at Old Amry Road and Central Park Avenue.
Opponents to the plan argue the out-of-state retailer will undersell local businesses and run small gas station owners into the ground.
“Is this board going to accept responsibility for the closing of a gas station or convenience store because the large corporation froze out the small Greenburgh operator?” Madelon O'Shea asked the council during its meeting Tuesday. “Doesn't loyalty to Greenburgh mean anything?”
Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, however, is touting the move as a plus for cash-strapped Greenburg motorists.
“Competition is good,” Feiner said. “I want to see gas prices going down and the average person likes to have choices.”
The debate stems from a zoning law prohibiting gas stations on Central Park Avenue. The code was created as part of an effort to rid the street of pumps years ago.
That means the several existing gas stations along the avenue don’t comply with town code, Council member Francis Sheehan said.
In what he says is an effort to get these stations up to code and allow the development of other stations, the town is working to change town law and allow gas stations along Central Avenue with a special use permit.
While existing stations won't be required to apply for the permit in order to remain open, they must do so if they want to expand or improve their building in the future. They will have 180 days to do so. Otherwise they will be left stuck, potentially unable to make building expansions or improvements.
That deadline has left several Edgemont residents, including Gerard O’Shea, questioning the town’s commitment to local business owners.
“You’ve gone out to change the zoning code of the town for a special interest, for one person selling gas,” he said. “What have you done for the people that have been helping you for 30, 40 years?”
But according to Feiner, the vocal group opposing the plan is in the minority.
An overwhelming number of Edgemont residents have expressed their support for the plan, through emails and conversations, he said.
The boarded up, abandoned gas station currently sitting along Central Park Avenue is creating an eyesore, Feiner said.
“This is not the south Bronx,” he said. “This is Edgemont.”
The Greenburgh Town Council is expected to vote on the resolution in the upcoming weeks.