Residents voice concern over 7-Eleven proposal

Neigh­bors ex­pressed con­cerns over light­ing, trash and noise that could come with the open­ing of a 7-El­ev­en con­veni­ence store on Gir­ard Av­en­ue.

For sev­er­al years, the former KFC-Long John Sil­ver’s build­ing at 23 W. Gir­ard Ave. has sat aban­doned and un­used.

That might change. A group of pro­spect­ive own­ers vis­ited the Fishtown Neigh­bors As­so­ci­ation’s Zon­ing Com­mit­tee last week to dis­cuss plans to turn the black, graf­fiti-covered build­ing near the Mar­ket-Frank­ford Line’s Gir­ard Sta­tion in­to a 7-El­ev­en.

But, it seemed to be a plan neigh­bors didn’t fa­vor, at least, not without a few con­ces­sions.

In in­tro­du­cing the present­a­tion, Matt Karp, chair­man of the Zon­ing Com­mit­tee, urged res­id­ents to cre­ate a Com­munity Be­ne­fits Agree­ment with the own­ers of the pro­posed con­veni­ence store, be­cause the own­ers wouldn’t need any in­put from area res­id­ents to build the 7-El­ev­en ex­cept for one de­tail.

Due to the city’s North Delaware Av­en­ue Spe­cial Dis­trict Con­trol over­lay — a zon­ing doc­u­ment that defines what de­vel­op­ment may come to the area — the 7-El­ev­en was stopped by one simple con­di­tion: take-out food and cof­fee sales.

Un­der the over­lay, no take-out food or bever­age sales are al­lowed without a vari­ance from the Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment.

However, at last week’s meet­ing, Karp told res­id­ents that the is­sue hold­ing up de­vel­op­ment was so minor that the zon­ing board might sup­port the plan re­gard­less of neigh­bor­hood ap­prov­al.

“It was stopped by an over­lay that was made for nightclubs. This is not a night club,” he said.

In­stead, the prop­erty would be a typ­ic­al 7-El­ev­en con­veni­ence store, with round-the-clock hours and park­ing for 17 vehicles.

Also, due to 7-El­ev­en’s own policies, the own­ers, a team of Vi­pul Pa­tel and Dipen Pa­tel, will be re­quired to in­stall 16 video sur­veil­lance cam­er­as in­side and around the peri­met­er of the build­ing.

The build­ing would be re­painted from the stark, van­dal­ized black it cur­rently wears, to a tan seen on most 7-El­ev­en shops across the coun­try. The build­ing also would get new signs — one on the build­ing and one on the post in the park­ing lot.

The small drive­way the former fast food res­taur­ant used as a drive-thru will be re­tained, al­though it will not be used for any drive-thru ser­vices. It will simply be a turn-around route for vehicles ex­it­ing the lot.

At­tor­ney for the Pa­tels, Mat­thew Lip­man of McEl­roy, Deutsch, Mul­vaney and Car­penter, presen­ted the plan as a unique 7-El­ev­en, not a tem­plate design, tailored to the loc­a­tion.

“We be­lieve this is an ideal loc­a­tion for a 7-El­ev­en,” he said. “We’ve spent a lot of time and a lot of money on this site.”

The Pa­tels, who own an­oth­er 7-El­ev­en in Pat­ter­son, N.J., and oth­er shops, in­clud­ing a Speedy Mart in Audu­bon, N.J., plan to hire loc­ally, and if ap­proved, could pos­sibly have the 3,452- square-foot store up and run­ning in four to six months.

But, dur­ing last week’s meet­ing, res­id­ents said they were con­cerned that light­ing from the 24-hour op­er­a­tion could ir­rit­ate loc­al res­id­ents that lit­ter dropped by store pat­rons could ac­cu­mu­late, that late-night truck de­liv­er­ies could keep loc­als awake, and that the side­walk on Leo­pard Street, at the east­ern edge of the 7-El­ev­en’s pro­posed park­ing lot, needs to be re­paired.

At the end of the even­ing, it seemed these is­sues kept res­id­ents from fully en­dors­ing the plan, and it was re­jec­ted with a vote of 16-21.

Yet, that even­ing, the own­ers seemed to want to be a part of the com­munity. Lip­man said as much a num­ber of times, and the own­ers said they would be open to cre­at­ing a be­ne­fits agree­ment with the FNA.

In fact, the team that pro­posed the plan even re­turned to the meet­ing just be­fore it ended to dis­cuss how they could ad­dress some of the res­id­ents’ con­cerns.

For ex­ample, the Pa­tels said that an­oth­er of their stores in New Jer­sey has a prob­lem with lit­ter due to a high volume of traffic from high school stu­dents, and at that store there are ex­tra trash cans and em­ploy­ees make sure areas out­side of the store are free of trash.

On Thursday, last week, Karp said dis­cus­sions were still on­go­ing in the hopes of cre­at­ing a CBA to ad­dress res­id­en­tial con­cerns.

The pro­ject will go be­fore the Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment on Wed­nes­day, June 29, at 2 p.m.

Also dur­ing last week’s meet­ing, neigh­bors ap­proved a pro­pos­al for a roof deck on a res­id­ence at 1218 Shack­amax­on St. The deck would be set back about 12 feet from the street and wouldn’t be vis­ible to ped­es­tri­ans.

Also, a gar­age that had been used by con­tract­ors for stor­age at 153 Rich­mond St., was ap­proved for con­ver­sion in­to a small res­id­ence. ••

Re­port­er Hay­den Mit­man can be reached at 215-354-3124 or hmit­ 

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