What is a convenience store?
That’s a question city officials are wrestling with, now that the City Council has approved a moratorium on such stores.
A Dunkin Donuts would “absolutely not” be considered a convenience store, said Zoning Officer Steve Strichman. But what about a Dunkin Donuts in a gas station mart, as has been proposed on Erie Boulevard?
“That’s where the questions come in,” he said. “You have a lot of crossover between a convenience store, a gas mart convenience store, halal market deli — we get every application in the world. And most of them turn out to be convenience stores.”
The official definition in the city code for a convenience store is a “small retail store that is open long hours and that typically sells staple groceries and snacks.”
But that’s not specific enough to cover the many proposals brought to the city each month, Strichman said, “so we need to tighten it up.”
City officials will propose ideas to the Planning Commission regarding the definition and new regulations for the stores, he said.
The commission will make recommendations to the City Council, which will hold a public hearing and eventually vote on the final proposal.
In the meantime, any new applications for small retail stores that sell groceries will be put on hold.
However, the two applications currently in the pipeline will be able to continue and, if approved, will be allowed to open during the moratorium.
The Dunkin Donuts gas mart on Erie Boulevard is about to be considered by the Zoning Board of Appeals, while an application for a convenience store on Emmett Street is on the next Planning Commission agenda.