Please Do Not Add a 7-11 to the Shell Station Across From Columbia HS
Joseph M. DePinto President and Chief Executive Officer 7-Eleven, Inc. One Arts Plaza 1722 Routh St., Suite 1000 Dallas, TX 75201 Dear Mr. DePinto: We write as concerned residents of Maplewood and South Orange, New Jersey to inform you that we strongly oppose your plans to open a 7-11 in Maplewood on Valley Street and Parker Avenue. The proposed store would be located directly across from Columbia High School, the secondary school for our two towns’ shared school system.. Our primary concern regarding this proposal, which would add a 7-11 to an existing Shell gas station at 490 Valley Street, is its proximity to the school and residential neighborhoods. The area in question is already heavily congested throughout the day by car and pedestrian traffic. Given the existing compaction of the current gas station on the site, the intensification of its use through the addition of a 7-11would be untenable. We are greatly concerned for the safety of our children who would have to traverse an active gas station to get to your building if this store is built. The Mayor of Maplewood agrees: "I think the proposed 1,800-square foot convenience store for the Parker & Valley intersection is a bad idea. The current level of traffic is already significant, particularly with the activity at the high school in both day and night." The local school board has also opposed the zoning change, citing safety issues. Our other concerns relate to the impact on the local area. Residents of this quaint area are intensely concerned about the increase in trash, loitering and truck traffic, the loss of mature screening trees, the likelihood of a 24-hour operation and the documented increase in crime associated with convenience stores. The proposed store does not fit the character of this potentially historic neighborhood. Currently, this matter is before our Zoning Board, from which your franchisee has requested numerous variances. Maplewood specifically prohibits dual uses, such as this one, for single lots. Our town’s zoning laws also prohibit gas stations in this district and near schools, but, the existing station, built in the 1920’s is grandfathered. Thus, your franchise is requesting variances on top of an existing non-conforming use. You have a challenging road to get these variances, but your company seems determined given the endless stream of highly competent lawyers, planners and engineers that are representing your franchisee before our Zoning Board. We note and appreciate the compromises your company made for the 7-11 you are building at 1712 Springfield Ave , to comply with our town’s existing zoning and planning laws, and to accommodate the neighbors there. However, we cannot accept a 7-11 at the Valley Street location, so near a high school serving over 2,000 students and staff. We have hired a traffic engineer and have amongst us attorneys, architects and planners. If you persist in the attempt to open a 7-11 on Valley and Parker, we will ask our residents to refrain from visiting the other 7-11's in our communities, and strong community opposition will be expressed in every legal way. . As a good corporate citizen, we ask you to reconsider this location for your new franchise. Thank you for your attention to this matter.