CANARY SQ.— 7-Eleven will continue to be open 24-hours at the intersection of Centre Street and S. Huntington Avenue if the Jamaica Pond Association (JPA) has its way.
Minus two board members who abstained, the JPA voted to support 7-Eleven proprietor Paul Marino’s request to make permanent what was his one-year conditional 24-hour license.
7-Eleven was granted a temporary 24-hour permit last year setting 2006 through October as a trial period.
At last month’s JPA meeting Marino appeared with his lawyers and attempted to secure the group’s support to make 24-hour service permanent, but opposing remarks made by a community member caused the vote to be suspended until the October meeting.
The woman, who lives next to 7-Eleven, complained about how often she was forced to call the police because of issues such as excessive trash and loud noise late at night, which she claimed are related to 7-Eleven’s all-night service.
In response, the JPA voted to suspend a final vote until this month’s meeting and until they could compare the number of police calls and incidents that involved 7-Eleven in 2005, when there was no 24-hour service, to the number of police calls and incidents in 2006 when 7-Eleven was conducting 24-hour service.
Larry DiCara, Marino’s lawyer, provided the JPA with the information they wanted to hear.
Last year the police department received 29 calls between 12 and 6 a.m. in the Centre Street and Huntington Avenue area. Only two of them were related to 7-Eleven, according to DiCara’s analysis of the police records his office obtained.
Since last month’s meeting, Marino said he has made contact with the woman who opposed 7-Eleven. He met with her at her house and spoke with her several times on the phone, he said.
“All of her concerns, I addressed,” said Marino at the meeting.
Marino said he stayed at 7-Eleven two nights between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. The noise during those hours is Centre Street-related, not 7-Eleven, he said.
The main question stalling the JPA was why the area where 7-Eleven stands was not zoned for 24-hour use. 7-Eleven is in a neighborhood business district, where it is expected that businesses close for the night.
A group of supporters, as well as two local police officers, stood up one-by-one praising the increased neighborhood security and conveniences that have come along with a 24-hour 7-Eleven, as well as Marino’s contributions to the community, such as planting trees.
“I work the a.m. shift and I do not know what I’d do without my cup of coffee from 7-Eleven,” said one woman.
“I had concerns a year ago,” said one neighbor, “but over and over again Paul has proven himself worthy as a 24-hour operator.”
The community’s emphasis on Marino’s strong character caused the JPA to tie 7-Eleven’s 24-hour service to the current owner. If the store is sold the new owner would be required to stand before the JPA for review.
The JPA voted 9-0-2 to approve 24-hour service with the proviso that the 24-hour condition be tied to current management.
Marino and DiCara are tentatively scheduled to appear before the Zoning Board of Appeal Nov. 28, according to DiCara.
The JPA has secured the rights for one year to www.JamaicaPondAssociation.org. The page is under construction and remains in the early stages of development. A mission statement, pages for each sub-committee, e-mail addresses and monthly minutes are planned to be the earliest postings, according to Eric Swardstrom.