On Monday, September 14, the Newburgh Town Board held a public hearing regarding Gas Land Petroleum, located at Fifth Avenue and Route 52, and it currently being in an area zoned for residential use.
On the call was Nicholas Ward-Willis, from the property firm Keane & Beane P.C, on behalf of Gas Land Petroleum pushing for the property to be rezoned.
They are looking for it to be rezoned from its current R-3 residential district to the adjacent B zoning district.
The request for rezoning has stemmed from the property wanting to make upgrades and changes, like internalizing the restrooms and improving the building facade.
When presented to the planning board originally, the requests were denied because Gas Land is a non-conforming use and could not proceed further unless they got a use variance. Ward-Willis described the use variance as a difficult criteria to meet.
“We recognize there are some quality of life issues in the neighborhood that we can improve upon,” said Ward-Willis. “We need the town’s help in doing that. It being restricted to residential use has some difficulties with improving and investing in the property,” said Ward-Willis.
However, there are a handful of concerns from residents regarding the property. One neighbor brought up issues regarding loitering, visible gas barbeque tanks, litter from the dumpster and drainage issues.
Another neighbor said, “I don’t want any construction at this site because the gas station and 24 hour market is a constant source of disruption in the neighborhood.”
Dean Clark, another neighbor, also contributed to the public hearing stating, “My major concern is there is constant turmoil at this place. I’ve witnessed assaults, the worker within the store has been beaten, there’s been robberies here. It all goes on after 10 p.m.”
Clark believes many of the updates look attractive, especially the indoor restrooms, but is still concerned with the late night activity.
Erik Indzonka has lived next to Gas Land for 50 years and said, “Despite the sugarcoating the attorney has put onto this by calling to a ‘family-friendly place’ … I think once they get what they want then the behavior I have experienced will revert just to that.”
Gas Land is not willing to change its hours from 24/7 to closing at 10 p.m., despite Councilwoman Elizabeth Greene asking if they’d consider it as an option.
“Without the zoning change what you see is what you get,” said Town Supervisor Gil Piaquadio. “I don’t think there is any chance of improving what’s there.”
Public comments can be accepted until September 24.