On March 18th, I participated in the public hearing on the proposed new gas stations on Route 199 (the highway business corridor) in Milan. Like me, most were in favor of reintroducing a gas station and attendant convenience store in town. But this was not the issue. The issue was zoning. For the town’s consideration, two important changes are proposed at the behest, of course, of the Sunoco folks: 1) Increasing the permitted size of convenience stores from 2,500 to 4,000 square feet; 2) Permitting drive-thru capability.
I don’t know about anyone else, but this doesn’t feel like a gas station/convenience store combo to me. (As a reference point, the relatively new Mobil Station on Route 9 in Rhinebeck Village is 2,300 square feet.) Instead, it feels like Milan would be setting the stage for the likes of Dunkin’ Donuts, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, et al. This is particularly so given the apparent (DEC) and general difficulties one would need to wade through to place a gas station at this location. So I can’t help but wonder if Milan’s residents aren’t being handed the old bait-and-switch act by the Sunoco folks.
And if permitted, Route 199–the portal not only to Milan but Rhinebeck and Red Hook as well–would subsequently become populated with one strip mall and chain store after another, detracting from the rural character of the area while also serving to diminish property values.
Though I believe letters and emails may still be forthcoming to town officials, the public hearing — the official forum for public opinion — is now over; and so it is squarely in the hands of the Milan Town Board. As the members of the board proceed with their discussions and deliberations at their meeting on Monday, April 15, I can only hope their vote will reflect thoughtfulness and forward-thinking and they will not be seduced by the promise of a quick tax buck, or worse, be guilty of granting favors.