The City of Claremont’s Planning Commission voted 6-1 on Tuesday against the construction of a 7-Eleven store on Foothill Boulevard.
The decision came after more than 20 Claremont residents spoke against the conditional use permit that had been brought to the City.
The permit sought approval for a new 7-Eleven store to occupy 2,500 square feet of the newly constructed retail building at 601 E. Foothill Blvd. The developers of the building had been working with the city to find a store that sold retail food but did not disturb the appeal of the small suburban city.
Commissioner K.M. Williamson, who voted against the permit, said the biggest concerns with the proposed 7-Eleven were its 24-hour service and alcohol sales, which she felt “were not in the realm of what you would call appropriate neighborhood-scale development.”
The average 7-Eleven generates a yearly tax revenue of $12,000 to $21,000 and employs 15 people, but residents claimed that the store would also bring crime to the area.
“It seems to me we need to consider the fact the $12,000 to $21,000 in sales tax will be offset by law enforcement costs,” Tess Henry, a Claremont resident, told the commission.
While Williamson said the decision to vote against the permit was not because of an anti-convenience-store sentiment, she conceded that the brand name may not sit well with a number of Claremont residents.
“If it were something else, like a Circle-K, or something else that had a name that was less familiar or iconic, it might have been approved,” Williamson said.
Commissioner Cynthia Humes cast the one vote in favor of approval. Before voting, Hammill responded to letters he had received, which expressed concerns that a 7-Eleven would bring people who drink alcohol, eat junk food, and smoke cigarettes to the town.
“I do drink alcohol and I do eat junk,” Hammill said. “So, to the author—too late.”
To approve a conditional use permit, Williamson said, the commission needed to make five findings that could prove the store would have had a positive impact on the city.
“The finding that could not be made was that [the new store] would not have a negative impact on the surrounding neighborhood,” Williamson said.
The owners of the retail building still have the option to file an appeal, which would be heard at the Mar. 23 City Council meeting. In the meantime, the city is still looking for other businesses to lease the location.
“Any city should, and does, have a strong interest in not having vacant buildings because that is like bad signage,” Williamson said.
Despite these setbacks, Williamson is optimistic about the city finding a suitable business for the space.
“I know that the developer and city staff are working hard to get something really nice there,” Williamson said.
Williamson also said 7-Eleven could still open in that location, if the company is willing to make concessions.
“I really don’t know if the 7-Eleven store model, with its 24-hour use, can be modified,” Williamson said. “If so, then it is definitely a possibility.”