For over three years now, a proposal to expand the Harbor Heights Service Station has been on the village docket, spending years in front of the planning board before moving onto the zoning board of appeals (ZBA), the body that in this case will make or break owner John Leonard’s dreams of a larger gas station complete with its own convenience store.
The project has certainly been met with opposition — studies and counter arguments filed with both boards at almost every turn. The reams of reports, memos and heartfelt letters would easily fill a couple boxes, and suffice to say the ZBA has more than enough information — and has had more than enough time — to make an educated decision about whether or not it should grant the three variances that will move this development forward.
That is why Monday’s work session was honestly a bit of a disappointment.
The meeting was largely disorganized, and while some board members clearly had a command over the material presented in both sides of this case, others appeared unaware that certain reports even existed. This is troubling, in that this is not only the most controversial and nuanced application before the board since the Watchcase condominiums, but also since there is a high likelihood that no matter what the ZBA’s decision is it will be challenged in a court of law.
We appreciate that our boards are made of volunteers, and believe each and every member is truly committed to this village. That being said, we urge the ZBA membership to ensure it’s ready to have legally based conversations about the facts in this case come January. The lawyers are watching …