A Red Bank resident looking to prevent a 7-Eleven from opening near her neighborhood believes her cause has garnered support from an unlikely entity: the borough itself.
At a recent council meeting, Sharon Hawthorn said she has evidence found in the minutes of previous town meetings that the borough blocked attempts made by a business owner to convert a Welsh Farms convenience store located on the corner of Spring and East Front Streets into a 24-hour a day, 365-day a year operation.
On Jan. 18, the Planning Board will hear the application of a builder who wants to convert the decades-old convenience store into a 7-Eleven that would be open every hour of every day. Hawthorn, a resident of nearby in Hubbard Park, said the conversion from a Welsh Farms into a 7-Eleven would change everything about how the businesses operates, despite both being convenience stores.
“Twenty-four hours is the thing,” she said. “It would cause a negative impact to the quality of life for those living nearby. Just the volume of business that would be done out of a 7-Eleven compared to a Welsh Farms, it’s a whole new dynamic.”
Hawthorn spoke at the council meeting and tried to make her concerns about the application known but was rebuffed by Mayor Pat Menna who said discussing a matter that has not yet gone before the Planning Board could cause conflict. Menna sits on the board along with Councilman Ed Zipprich and Red Bank Business Administrator Stanley Sickles.
If the borough wasn’t sold on the idea of allowing a convenience store to operate in that location 24 hours a day the last time the idea was pitched, there’s little reason to change the official position now, Hawthorn believes.
Board approval of the project would have to include several waivers for the buildings size, signage, and its proximity to the neighbors. The application calls for some construction and aesthetic improvements to the existing building, including the addition of a cold-storage unit.
Hawthorne said the operating hours represent could lead to more traffic, noise, and even, she believes, criminal activity in the area. She also wondered if it was necessary for Red Bank to have a second 7-Eleven to go along with the one located about a mile away, also on West Front Street.
Hawthorne said she’s petitioned her neighbors to show up at next week’s Planning Board meeting to object to the application.