|September 19, 2012, 05:00 AM By Bill Silverfarb Daily Journal staff|
A 7-Eleven has been approved to replace the vacant Stangelini’s Italian Deli & Hilltop Market in San Mateo by city staff but Deputy Mayor David Lim has requested a series of public hearings to determine whether the land should be kept as residential, as it is currently zoned.
The deli was vacant for so long, nearly two years, that the property on North San Mateo Drive is now zoned for multi-family residences. A 7-Eleven or any other retail establishment proposed for the site is considered a non-conforming use since the land is zoned residential.
City staff approved 7-Eleven’s zoning application Aug. 30 after developer, Portfolio Development Partners, held a community outreach meeting at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in February.
Portfolio was granted a zoning code amendment, since the building is now considered non-conforming, to re-establish a grocery store use on the site.
Lim requested a hearing regarding the possible termination and removal of the non-conforming use at 501 N. San Mateo Drive, near the Burlingame border, after hearing from neighbors near the site who complained about the potential for increased crime, traffic and the oversaturation of convenience stores in the area.
Lim suspects neighborhood residents would be more favorable to a use similar to Stangelini’s rather than a 7-Eleven, which stays open 24 hours a day and sells alcohol and cigarettes.
An official with Portfolio would not comment to the Daily Journal yesterday on the issue.
The initial plan was to restore the property as a grocery store but Josh Amoroso with Portfolio previously told the Daily Journal that housing was also a possibility for the site.
Lim and other councilmembers have received numerous emails from neighbors near the site in the past week saying they had concerns about a 7-Eleven popping up in the area.
The Planning Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing in October on the use of the property and the City Council is tentatively scheduled to hear the matter at its Nov. 19 meeting.
If the council finds the 7-Eleven to be a non-conforming use for the site, the developer will have a minimum of two years and maximum of up to five years to maintain a non-conforming use on the site. After that, the use would revert to residential.
Lim is seeking to have the hearings soon since the developer has not invested any serious money in improvements to the property, Lim said.
Lane Kashiwahara and his wife attended the community meeting at the King Center in February and left it with the impression that a “neighborhood market” was proposed for the site.
“City employees assured us that there would be additional information and notices sent out related to this project. As you know, we received no further communication,” Kashiwahara wrote Lim in an email.
The Kashiwahara’s contend a 7-Eleven would “sacrifice the integrity of the neighborhood and its charm.”
There are plenty of other markets in the area, they wrote, that already serve alcohol and cigarettes.
Lim is seeking a review of the non-conforming use since the deli’s use was authorized more than 20 years ago.
Now is the time to determine whether the non-conforming use is proper, so as to minimize the impact on the property owners, Lim wrote City Manager Susan Loftus when making his request for a public hearing.
“The surrounding community deserves a public hearing to weigh in on whether the current non-conforming use should remain in the community,” Lim wrote to Loftus.
Bill Silverfarb can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 106.