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Stew Leonard's has lost the latest round of a 13-year battle to build a store in Orange, Conn., but don't count the feisty supermarket operator out just yet.
The State Supreme Court last week sided with local group Save Our Neighborhood that there was insufficient evidence to grant the grocer approval to construct a store on Marsh Hill Road on the basis that it wouldn't cause unreasonable harm to adjacent wetlands and watercourses.
Although Stew Leonard's president and c.e.o. Stew Leonard Jr. admitted to being "surprised and disappointed" by the ruling, he emphasized that the company was still "committed to becoming part of the Orange community.
"We're all still scratching our heads over this decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court to overturn our Inland Wetlands approval," Leonard said. "The court's decision was not based on any negative impact to the environment our store would have had, but on technicalities."
According to Leonard, the store would have created 400 new jobs, in addition to being the largest taxpayer in Orange, with over $700,000 in net new property taxes per year.
Norwalk, Conn.-based Stew Leonard's already operates four stores, in Norwalk, Danbury, and Newington, Conn., and Yonkers, N.Y.
Despite its current win, Save Our Neighborhood also remains dedicated to its cause. "We've been fighting it for 13 years, and if we have to fight it for another 13 years, we will," group representative Clem Evangeliste told local TV station WTNH, noting that the organization had no objection to companies relocating to the area that would "actually provide real jobs...without thousands and thousands of cars," such as Pez Candy.