Shop Delight owner, attorney plead case for expansion

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The owner of the Shop Delight kosher supermarket in Great Neck Plaza and his attorney said Wednesday that the storage facility for which they are seeking approval in a vacant storefront three stores down on Welwyn Road was intended to alleviate concerns trustees have previously expressed about the market’s truck deliveries and conditional-use permit violations.
“If this board says no to our conditional-use application, how does that make this condition or the circumstances any better? Are we still going to try our best to control the trucks and do what we can with it? The answer is yes, we will continue to do that,” said Paul Bloom, the attorney representing Shop Delight owner Mike Karam. “But it’s not going to get any better. We’re offering to expend a lot of money to, if not guarantee it’s better, at least take the steps in the direction that it will become better.”
Responding to trustee comments expressing skepticism about the application for a conditional-use permit, Bloom told the board he was “not quite sure” how much more his client could offer the board or why there is “hesitation” on the application.
The application is Shop Delight’s third attempt at expanding.
Great Neck Estates trustees rejected an application for a second Shop Delight on Middle Neck Road in July 2015 after the applicants failed to file an amended application after several months of contentious public hearings.
At the May 4 Plaza board meeting, an application to operate the butcher shop in the vacant storefront was officially withdrawn after four months of discussions during which trustees repeatedly complained of problems related to the supermarket.
After an Aug. 3 board hearing on the storage facility, trustees asked Karam to return to the board with a list of who will be delivering to the loading zone in back of the proposed storage space and how many times per week.
Bloom presented the board with a list of what he said was every vendor that delivers products to Shop Delight, what type of truck they use for deliveries and how often they deliver.
He also gave the board a 2014 report, which was prepared by Mulryan Engineering during the supermarket’s application talks in Great Neck Estates, that highlighted findings of a two-day study of the time from when a delivery truck arrives to when it departs the location.
Trusteed Gerald Schneiderman said he had issues with the report because it did not make note of deliveries that have come outside of the permitted hours.
“We have had neighbors actually on the record come down and say that they have had trucks there at six o’clock in the morning, four o’clock in the morning,” Schneiderman said. “I can’t buy into this report as though it was done whole-heartedly on any given honest day when we have had residents come down and tell us otherwise.”
Shop Delight’s current conditional-use permit restricts deliveries to 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Wednesday.
Trustee Pamela Marksheid said she had seen a delivery truck earlier that day parked in an illegal striped zone.
Bloom said the proposed storage facility is intended to “address issues like that” by utilizing the back loading zone and gaining the ability to stock more items in storage, thus lessening the number of deliveries.
He also said the supermarket would hire an employee who would monitor deliveries and ensure everything is being done according to the conditional-use permit.
“If there are violations, make his life miserable. Call him,” Bloom said. “Tell him to get his backside out on the street and get the vehicles away from where they should not be.”
Karam said when the supermarket first opened, he used 150 vendors to deliver products, but that number has since been reduced to 52, and the storage facility would allow them to possibly eliminate more vendors.
He also said the storage facility was not intended to increase his sales.
Deputy Mayor Ted Rosen said it is possible that the proposal would actually make the situation worse rather than fix it.
Bloom said Rosen’s concerns was not a basis to deny the application and that the supermarket is one of the most successful businesses in the village.
“I think the biggest benefit is what you see as potentially the biggest deficit, and that is we’re going to have a place to store more product,” he said.
Rosen said the board was happy with Shop Delight’s success but “would be a lot happier if this was a successful business with a record of demonstrated compliance with the conditions we have imposed.”
Schneiderman said the “hesitation” that the board has towards the application was because the supermarket has been “less than a good neighbor to the community.”
“If they were a good neighbor, we would bend over backwards and do everything we can to help them,” he said. “But when people tell us one thing and do something else and they lie to our face and they’ve been rude to the mayor when she’s gone over there, then I think we have every right to be concerned.”
Resident Jeffrey Choit, who lives on Schenk Avenue in back of the supermarket and has appeared at board meetings for past Shop Delight applications, said he is often woken up by delivery trucks arriving before 7 a.m. and that neighbors in his building also complain about the noise.
Karam said he would be willing to put a chain at the entrance of the back loading zone so no deliveries can come before permitted hours and residents won’t be disturbed.
Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender previously said she had concerns about truck drivers being able to maneuver into the back of the facility and requested photos and plans describing how it could be done.
Bloom presented the board with documents prepared by Cameron Engineering outlining how a 20-foot truck, a 26-foot truck and a 32-foot truck would enter and exit the back loading zone.
“These displays just show you how tight it is back there,” Celender said.
She added that the reports don’t account for when there is snow on the ground, which would make it more difficult to get into the loading zone.
The board adjourned discussions on the application to the Oct. 19 meeting to review new materials that were submitted and further discuss the application.

By Joe Nikic

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