By CLOEY CALLAHAN
Gas Land Petroleum, located at Fifth Avenue and Route 52, has been approved by the Newburgh Town Board for its rezoning request. They asked to be rezoned from its current R-3 residential district to the adjacent B zoning district in order to begin renovations on the building.
The town held a public hearing mid September regarding the issue. Several concerned neighbors were against the rezoning because of how Gas Land has operated thus far. Residents brought up issues regarding late night activity involving loitering, public urination and littering. Other concerns included visible gas barbeque tanks, drainage issues and miscellaneous disruption to the neighborhood.
Nicholas Ward-Willis, from the property firm Keane & Beane P.C., attended the public hearing on behalf of Gas Land.
Ward-Willis stated, “We recognize there are some quality of life issues in the neighborhood that we can improve upon. We need the town’s help in doing that. It being restricted to residential use has some difficulties with improving and investing in the property.”
The Town Supervisor hinted at his support of the rezoning during the public hearing and stated “Without the zoning change what you see is what you get.”
Despite uneasy neighbors, the board still voted unanimously on the rezoning, with little discussion during the October 26 meeting.
“I understand the neighbors concerns because they are dealing with the consequences of a location that hasn’t been rehabbed for a long time,” said Vice President of Gas Land, Zeidan Nesheiwat.
He stated that with the rezoning they would be able to put in place new initiatives for the establishment.
“Once we come in there and make our changes and put effort into the location, it’s going to get better,” said Nesheiwat. “It needs to get better.”
They are planning to construct in-store restrooms, which would minimize the amount of action outside of the building. The remodeling would also include a deli and coffee counter for customers to grab prepared breakfast and lunch sandwiches or make their own fresh coffee.
“We are going to turn it into a family friendly location, as it should be,” said Nesheiwat. “Not doing anything doesn’t help. It’s been this way for 20 years.”
In coming up with new plans for the location, Nesheiwat spoke with the surrounding neighbors with Town of Newburgh Deputy Supervisor Scott Manley.
“Whatever was reasonable we are happy and want to do,” said Nesheiwat. “It’s our responsibility to work with the neighbors that are directly affected.”
The rezoning and remodeling project for Gas Land now needs to go to the Town of Newburgh planning board. They want to begin remodeling as soon as possible and are expecting to begin in either the spring or summer of 2021.