7-Eleven plans to set up shop in the West End, and some residents have reacted strongly against the proposal.
“When you bring in a business like a 7-Eleven, in my opinion it will be crippling to like-businesses in the surrounding area,” said Rick Hoffman, president of the West End Neighbors Civic Association. “These guys come in and what you see will be three, four or five other businesses closing their doors and suddenly the area looks like Asbury Park in the 70’s.
“In other towns that have allowed stores like a 7-Eleven to operate, it has been a detriment to the surrounding like-businesses,” he added.
Hoffman also said a 7-Eleven is usually open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which could draw an undesirable clientele to the community, especially in the early-morning hours.
Scott Kemins, the City of Long Beach’s buildings commissioner, said he heard that 7-Eleven “was moving towards an agreement” to purchase Ballybannon deli/convenience store, at 969 W. Beech St., and its surrounding property.
But Hoffman said it’s a done deal and residents and merchants are not happy about it.
“I don’t appreciate the owner of Ballybannon selling to 7-Eleven when residents supported his deli for years,” Hoffman said. “He’s turning his back on the residents and this guy ran his business based on the residents’ support in the West End.”
Several calls for comment to the owner of Ballybannon were not returned.
Kemins said plans were submitted late last month to the Buildings Department for a permit to renovate the existing building, as well as installing new shelving, refrigeration and other equipment and to beautify the exterior.
Kemins said no variances are required because the off-street parking is already in place and no additions are being built to the existing building. “It can be done as of right,” he said.
Kemins said he could not take a stand for or against a 7-Eleven coming into the community, which would represent the second store of its kind in Long Beach. “If 20 people say they are against it but the law says they can do it, I have to let them do it,” he said.
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But Hoffman said he has been following a similar situation in West Islip in which community outrage has essentially “put the brakes” on a 7-Eleven moving into that neighborhood.
Hoffman said that since the Long Beach location does not have to go before the Zoning Board, opponents may have no other recourse than to “make a stink about it and express their displeasure” at the City Council meetings.
“They should go to Tuesday’s meeting, which may be a good opportunity to say this is not the right answer for the West End,” Hoffman said.
Billy Romm, owner of Billy’s Beach Café for 27 years, said 7-Eleven’s arrival “could definitely eat into everyone who has been here for years and supported the community. It could take a slice of pie from all of them.”
He said residents will be faced with increased traffic and possible loss of parking on their streets if 7-Eleven moves in, and added that big corporations come into a community and “suck as much money as they could out of it. Everybody is affected by it.”
But resident Joanne Schultz Rea welcomes the new 7-Eleven. "I think its a great idea," she said. "Beach Bagel needs some competition to end their price gouging on every item. 7-Eleven stores are always clean and serve great coffee. I've lived here over 30 years. I don't see that a 7-Eleven would reduce the quality of my life or my neighborhood."
Efforts to reach 7-Eleven officials were unsuccessful.