A new grocery store coming to a long-vacant shopping center has been positive news in the community, but the shop’s immediate neighbors worry that their quality of life might be negatively affected.
The strip mall on Route 9W has been mostly unoccupied since Stop & Shop relocated to Samsondale Plaza in West Haverstraw in February 2008.
Town officials breathed a sigh of relief when they learned that Aldi, an international grocery store chain, would be the new anchor tenant.
Major renovations have been ongoing for several months, and the store’s opening is slated to be sometime next month.
Residents of Hoke Drive, which runs along the mall property, are getting concerned. From their bedroom windows or backyards, they see newly installed refrigeration units exposed on top of a massive cement wall. And on recent nights, they started seeing outdoor security lighting glaring
They fear that the unsightly view as well as noise from delivery trucks or refrigeration units could reduce their property values.
They are afraid that Aldi employees can easily peek through their property because the fence between their backyards and the shopping center is inadequate.
“We are not saying we don’t want Aldi. ... It’s good for the community,” said Jeff Grosin, whose spacious backyard with a swimming pool is facing the shopping mall. “But at the same time, we need our privacy. My daughters don’t want to be in the backyard because they feel uncomfortable.”
Grosin and Laura Passarelli, another resident on Hoke Drive, spoke during the recent Town Board meeting, seeking the town’s intervention.
“Can fast growing trees, such as poplar, be planted to beautify the cement wall?” Passarelli said in front of the Town Board, adding that she also wanted the refrigeration units on the rooftop be enclosed so that she doesn’t have to see them.
Supervisor Geoffrey Finn said he would try to come up with a solution to make residents happy.
But to do so, the town would have to work with the shopping mall’s owner, James Goldsmith, president of Gator Investments.
Aldi is financing the store’s interior and facade renovation, but all other work has been done by Gator Investments, Building Inspector William Sheehan said.
The town and Goldsmith have been in a contentious relationship since Goldsmith filed tax challenges against the town over the 2011 and 2012 assessment for the 6-acre property.
The case is pending before state Supreme Court in New City.
Both sides say the case hasn’t been resolved because the other side is unreasonable.
Reached by phone, Goldsmith said although he was not familiar with neighbors’ concerns, he would look into them.
“We’re going to accommodate to the best we can,” Goldsmith said. “If someone can send us photographs, it’d be helpful so we can see them. And we’ll go from there.”