CVS, Part I of V

Follow Progress For Westhampton Beach

By:  Progress for Westhampton Beach

CVS, a national drug store chain headquartered in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, wants to enter a lease for 10,000 square feet of commercial space in the old Sunset Avenue bowling alley.

There is currently an application pending before the village Board of Trustees for a special exception to the 3,000 square foot limit to commercial space.  A public hearing, as required by local village law, was opened on December 3, 2015.  Village Attorney, Stephen Angel, Esq., provided an introduction so that those in attendance would understand the parameters of the hearing.

In the B-1 District a pharmacy is a permitted use, that goes for Rite Aid, Barth’s and CVS.  Some residents are concerned that another drug store is unnecessary, they are probably right.  The Village Attorney made it clear that under New York law it is not a permissible function of government to prevent marketplace competition.  The only issue that is the subject of the hearing is whether permitting a single 10,000 square foot retail space meets the conditions of the special exception.

The question, in some respects, can be reduced to:  “What is it about a single 10,000 square foot retail store that creates an impermissible impact that is different than 4 separate retail  stores in the same space that are  permitted as of right?” 

The one issue that has been identified is a question of scale.  The Master Plan envisions many smaller stores in our B-1 District, to promote a visually appealing aesthetic that we would like to have on Sunset Avenue.  The Village Planner and the Planning Board have already been working on this with the applicant and devised the plan presented at the December 3rd meeting.  The entire proposed store will be contained within the existing footprint of the bowling alley which is 20,000 square feet, and will be interior space.  The remaining square footage that faces Sunset Avenue and the north side of the building will be retail space reserved for other tenants.

The hearing remains open to allow for review of a traffic study and additional input from the Planning Board that will be considered at the continued public hearing.


For readers who have an interest in why NY law prevents the village board from managing the variety and number of retail stores in the village we will go over that here in a series of posts.  It’s an old story.

The story begins with Aaron, Thomas and others.  This is not going to be biblical.  We are talking about: Aaron Ogden; Thomas Gibbons; Cornelius Vanderbilt, who played bit part;1)He was 24 years old. Vanderbilt’s consolidation of the New York Central & Hudson River railroads and his construction of NY Grand Central terminal would come later.  and forty-two-year-old Daniel Webster, who would later earn his stripes as a statesman, orator, and constitutional scholar.

This story arises out of competition in the steamboat industry and, dusting off some cerebral cobwebs, you will probably remember from your high school American History classClermont_illustration_-_Robert_Fulton_-_Project_Gutenberg_eText_15161 the case of Gibbons v. Ogden.2)this case is still referenced in New York Social Studies Core Curriculum.

The legal case started in what was then commonly called “The New York State Court of Errors”3)John Grisham could not have chosen a better name for a court in this story.   NY later changed it to the “NY Court of Appeals.” from there the case went to the NY Court of Chancery. Chancery courts are courts of equity where presiding judges apply rules of fairness. New York has since done away with this court.4)in 1846 the Court of Chancery was combined with the trial courts, the courts of law.

New York State  gave Aaron Ogden a monopoly license to operate his steamboat business.  Thomas Gibbons started a competing steamboat business and Ogden took him to court.  Ogden  won an injunction against Thomas Gibbons in the NY Courts.  The injunction prohibited Gibbons from competing in the waters between New York City and Elizabeth New Jersey. Gibbons’ steamboat captain, Cornelius Vanderbilt, would have to bide his time while this was sorted out.

Tomorrow  Enter Daniel Webster…  Part II of V

References   [ + ]

1. He was 24 years old. Vanderbilt’s consolidation of the New York Central & Hudson River railroads and his construction of NY Grand Central terminal would come later.
2. this case is still referenced in New York Social Studies Core Curriculum.
3. John Grisham could not have chosen a better name for a court in this story.   NY later changed it to the “NY Court of Appeals.”
4. in 1846 the Court of Chancery was combined with the trial courts, the courts of law.

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