Residents contest reopening of gas station


At a hearing on May 21, Malverne Park residents asked the Town of Hempstead to reject two applications to reopen a gas station at the intersection of Hempstead and Morris avenues, at what those residents consider to be a poorly managed site that has been the object of many complaints in recent years.

The station, in Malverne Park, an unincorporated area outside the village of Malverne, has been used solely for mechanical repairs since February.

The board first discussed an application from Snuggle Ventures Inc., the gas station owner, for a zoning change of the property. The second application requests a permit to replace the station’s gas pumps with four new storage tanks, each with a capacity of 22,000 gallons.

The gas station — which first opened in 1925, predating local zoning codes — has been nonoperational since February, with gas tanks that were last replaced 30 years ago, though its repair shop remains open.

Despite the proposal to replenish the gas station, six residents from Malverne Park approached the town board to express their concerns about reopening the previously ill-maintained property.

In a written statement submitted to the board, Howard Frauenberger, 66, a resident of Atlas Avenue for nine years who could not attend the hearing, outlined a list of grievances involving the station. It had prolonged hours of operation, Frauenberger wrote, staying open until 11 .m. every night — in contrast to its initial closing time of between 6 and 7 p.m. on weekdays and earlier on Sundays — to the point where neighbors were disturbed late at night. Its location at the intersection, between Hempstead and Ocean avenues, two heavily traveled roads, also posed traffic problems, with near-accidents and numerous noise and safety violations.

In the event that the board approves the request to rezone the station, Frauenberger asked that officials should enforce certain restrictions in terms of its operation, particularly limiting its closing hours to 8 or 9 p.m. on weekdays and 7 or 8 p.m. on Sundays, the noise level at its location and the size of storage tanks to their current capacity. If these conditions are violated, Frauenberger wrote the town should impose severe penalties, such as a suspension of the station’s permit to operate for one month along with other fines.

“Malverne is known as a special place and a charming village with a character all its own so close to New York City,” Frauenberger concluded in his statement. “My goal, our goal, is to keep it that way.”

While some residents have protested the station’s reopening, other Malverne Park neighbors have taken advantage of its convenient location on their block.

John Baldacchino, 37, who lives on Morris Avenue, claims that he hasn’t been bothered by the prior use of this property, especially in the months after Hurricane Sandy, when the station’s mechanic supplied gas for residents.

“You can complain about it but there are perks at times,” Baldacchino said when asked about recent debate on the station. “The main thing to ask is ‘What’s the alternative – an abandoned gas station?’”

Town officials are still deliberating about these two applications and are waiting to receive further testimony from Snuggle Ventures Inc.

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