Construction to Start on 7-Eleven Near High School

Project has attracted controversy for more than two years.


Construction should begin "any day now" on a new 7-Eleven store located at the corner of Valley Street and Parker Avenue across from Columbia High School, according to the developer's attorney.

"We are ready to go, as soon as permits are pulled," said Louis Rago, attorney for Ali Enterprises, LLC.

Rago recently appeared before the Maplewood Zoning Board of Adjustment to clarify whether a provision in the developer's agreement that stipulated that construction could only take place in summer, to minimize disruption during the school year, was a condition of approval. At its meeting on Sept. 5, the board said it was not, clearing the way for the project to begin.

The convenience store has a lengthy and complicated history.

The 1,800-square-foot store was first proposed by Ali, which owns the Shell Station currently on the site, in January of 2010. Residents expressed concern about proximity of the new building to nearby houses and to the high school, among other issues.

At meetings in the spring of 2011, experts for the developer asked the Board of Adjustment to grant a use variance, asserting that the current location would be more than adequate for both uses -- convenience store and gas station -- if it were subdivided.

The developer made adjustments to the original site plan, which included creating a raised sidewalk at the east side of the property for the safety of high school students, adding a chain link fence and curb cuts to ease traffic flow.

However, a group of residents countered with their own experts who testified that those changes would not compensate for the added congestion of more vehicles and foot traffic. Residents also circulated a petition against the variance. 

The South Orange - Maplewood Board of Education and Maplewood's Mayor Vic DeLuca both opposed the project, citing safety concerns. 

Still, at its meeting in May 2011, the Zoning Board voted 5-2 to allow the variance, with one caveat: the store would not be open 24 hours a day, but rather from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. In June 2011, Patch reported that 7-Eleven would not move ahead with the project because of that restriction.

According to Rago, that sticking point was the main cause of the delay in the project's commencement. "We were attempting to get something palatable for both 7-Eleven and my client," he said. That issue was settled in the spring.

Prosper September 21, 2012 at 11:39 AM
Two 7-11s on Valley Street? Or is this in place of the one that would replace Town Hall Deli?
Elisabeth Anderson September 21, 2012 at 12:48 PM
It is a disgrace! This project was voted down by the community and the developer rejected the restrictions. Then the developer turns around and decides to open. If construction begins now, it is DURING the school year. The Board needs to reject this atrocity, and the community needs to boycott it. I already don't get my car's overpriced gas there!
Stephanie Kennedy September 21, 2012 at 01:12 PM
I was under the impression that a 7-eleven was going to open where Town Hall Deli is now located.
judie gold September 21, 2012 at 02:06 PM
For some reason I do not get the South Orange Patch as I have in the past. I did sign up again this week--Thank you-- Judie Gold goldjegold@aol.com
Carolyn Maynard-Parisi (Editor) September 21, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Stephanie and Prosper: you are correct, Patch recently reported that the Town Hall Deli owner plans to leave his current location on Valley in SO and that potentially 7-Eleven will move in. http://patch.com/A-xn4r
Carolyn Maynard-Parisi (Editor) September 21, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Judie - we have had intermittent technical issues with our newsletters, so I'm glad you signed up again. Are you also still getting Maplewood Patch?
samantha September 21, 2012 at 03:45 PM
The car and pedestrian traffic on Parker Avenue are an atrocity, along with the foul language that is loudly shouted out by students walking east on Parker ave.... but to go further, the race of police cars in pursuit of crime, fire and medical instances up and down this avenue throughout the day and evening hours just make an added venue all the more dangerous and a potential catastrophe. How can the "powers that be" ignore or be oblivious to these conditions????
Carolyn Maynard-Parisi (Editor) September 21, 2012 at 04:43 PM
samantha: Mayor DeLuca and the BOE did oppose the project from the start, but the Zoning Board had the final say on whether to grant the developer the use variance.
Elisabeth Anderson September 21, 2012 at 05:06 PM
How can this be stopped?
samantha September 21, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Carolyn........I guess the residents, no matter how many, continue not to be heard. What happened to the majority?
Shamrock1224 September 21, 2012 at 05:24 PM
If they leave the property with the gas pumps, and a small convenience store, it may be extremely crowded as the property doesn't appear any larger than the Quick Chek on Boyden and Springfield Ave. I was looking at this from an environmental issue. How old are the underground tanks that are there, and who is currently insuring them from rupture and spillage into our water/sewer systems? The Twp better be sure that there are Pollution Policies in place for anyone new coming in, as this coverage wouldn't necessarily roll over to cover the new service station. Some people would be surprised if they knew how old the tanks were (mostly single walled, not the more modern double walled) in the service stations they use. I do agree with the congestion comments. It's been bad all the way back to when we moved here in 1974
Elisabeth Anderson September 21, 2012 at 05:32 PM
I agree, the majority doesn't want this, so why is it being built?
Carolyn Maynard-Parisi (Editor) September 21, 2012 at 05:49 PM
shamrock1224: I was told the developer is replacing the underground gas tanks with new ones. That will be the first thing they do when they begin construction.
Shamrock1224 September 21, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Carolyn: I do Pollution Ins as part of my job. Whoever is replacing the tanks (the actual company) really should have high Pollution Liability Limits in place, and name the Twp of Maplewood as Addl Insured under the policy. The last thing the Twsp needs is an environmental claim.
Elisabeth Anderson September 21, 2012 at 07:23 PM
I think the Shell station and 7-11 are not needed, and both should go.
samantha September 21, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Is the construction decision a final one?
Carolyn Maynard-Parisi (Editor) September 21, 2012 at 09:58 PM
samantha: Final approval was granted by the Zoning Board in June 2011.
Carolyn Maynard-Parisi (Editor) September 21, 2012 at 10:00 PM
This is a very interesting point, and I don't know the details of the township's insurance. It might be a good question to bring up at a Township Committee meeting.
Elisabeth Anderson September 21, 2012 at 10:14 PM
It ia amazing but I thought the plan to build was cancelled last June. I wonder why they came back to build where they clearly are not wanted. I'd like to know if there is a 7-11 near where the Shell station owner lives.
Lil Hartman September 22, 2012 at 01:58 AM
The Zoning Board in this town is a feifdom onto itself and has been as long as I remember - that's 30 years here. It's outrageous they still wield so much power. Many years ago they approved a fast food restaurant at Yale and Springfield which if memory serves me the residents of Yale street litigated against and eventually won , It was a long battle though.
Stephanie Kennedy September 22, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Am I to understand that they now plan on opening TWO 7-Elevens, one by Columbia High School and the other a few blocks away in place of Town Hall Deli? To me, that is ridiculous!!!!!
Elisabeth Anderson September 22, 2012 at 07:19 PM
I'm wondering if the Zoning Board will take the possibility of 2 7-11s on one street, so close together into account, and say that 2 is too many!!
Stephanie Kennedy September 22, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Is the Shell Station in South Orange or Maplewood? If it is in Maplewood, the 7-Eleven situation by the Shell Station would not be brought up in the South Orange meetings.
Ramon Ramirez September 24, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Construction has begun as of this morning. Can't wait for my morning slurpees.
Ramon Ramirez September 24, 2012 at 03:53 PM
You realize those are two separate towns right?
Elisabeth Anderson September 24, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Pathetic need!
Stephanie Kennedy September 25, 2012 at 04:17 PM
I passed by the Shell Station and construction of the 7 Eleven is now in process.
Clive September 27, 2012 at 03:19 PM
If it's already approved and all recourse has been exhausted. The final litmus will be wether or not the business ends up been successful! As my Gran Ma always insisted - if the customer base doesn't show up - the doors will close all by themsleves.


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