SOUTH SALEM, N.Y. – A Vista gas station application being considered by the Lewisboro Planning Board is already drawing some resident pushback and could ultimately be blocked by a proposed new town law.
Under that law, recommended last week by Supervisor Peter Parsons, any future gasoline outlet could not be located within a mile of an existing one. Parsons made his proposal at the Town Board’s May 24 Zoom meeting, saying he wanted to increase the current 200-foot minimum required separation to one mile.
“The last thing Vista needs is another gas station,” one resident told the board while another found even a consideration of the issue “disgraceful.”
The residents’ remarks and Parsons’ proposal followed by days the Planning Board’s May 18 discussion of a request by Vista Market to add two “fuel dispensers” to its Smith Ridge Road business. The market is located roughly three-quarters of a mile south of Vista’s two other gas stations, making the convenience store off-limits as a filling station under the Parsons plan.
The Planning Board’s consideration of the proposal would not include input from residents, Janet Anderson, the board chair, made clear at the outset. But no such impediment was in place at the Town Board’s two public comment sessions last week.
Two outspoken Vista residents made their feelings known. Simone Petromelis said, “Even discussing a third gas station in less than a half mile of the other two that are already in walking distance of each other is disgraceful.”
Robyn Legenzowski deplored the addition of yet another filling station to the hamlet’s roster. “We have two; we don’t need three,” she said, expressing concern that the facility could someday be “leaking toxins into the Vista water. We’re contaminated enough. We don’t need more contaminants in Vista.”
Something of a landmark for decades, Vista Market sits close enough to the Connecticut border to qualify as a bistate purveyor of sandwiches and pizza, milk, and beer.
At the Planning Board session last month, Peter J. Gregory, a senior project manager with Provident Design Engineering (Hawthorne), presented the proposal by Aashi LLC, owner of Vista Market. Aashi wants to install a pair of what it terms fuel dispensers, each carrying two gas pumps.
Earlier, in a letter to the board, Gregory said the 3.4-acre property consisted of three tax parcels, two with framed buildings and the market. Parts of the property are zoned for either retail business or residential uses. Town code permits gas stations in retail business zones.
But the town supervisor made it clear—without specifically addressing the Vista situation—that he wants to avoid gasoline alleys in Lewisboro. Parsons said he wanted to enact a local law “relatively quickly” that would mandate “a one-mile radius around an existing gas station for any new gas station. In other words, gas stations have got to be a mile apart.”
Asked why he chose a mile as the minimum distance, replacing the town code’s current 200-foot separation, Parsons said only, “We just don’t need gas stations within a mile of each other.”
Parsons rejected suggestions that he simply move to ban any new gas stations in town, saying he wanted the flexibility to support them where needed. He identified Goldens Bridge as a hamlet that could benefit from some gas pumps.
Councilman Dan Welsh, translating, said, “So, the mile [minimum separation] helps to stop proliferation in one hamlet, but doesn’t exclude a hamlet that’s without a gas station.”
Despite the call for quick action, town attorney Greg Folchetti said a public hearing on the proposed law should not be scheduled any sooner than a month from now. The matter must be referred to both county planners and the town Planning Board, which have 30 and 45 days, respectively, in which to make their recommendations.
“If you don’t have the comments back,” Folchetti observed, “you can always adjourn the public hearing.”
The Planning Board, for its part, is unlikely to move with any greater dispatch. Among a number of steps, it must still refer the Vista Market application to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation for review.