Coin-Op Air Machine Operators Score Legislative Victory On Long Island

Posted On: 1/20/2018

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LOCALLY PRODUCED: Long Island fabricators manufacture McCabe’s coin-op air machines, and final assembly takes place in his Copiague NY, facility.
MINEOLA, NY -- On Jan. 2, New York State Supreme Court Justice Karen V. Murphy enjoined the Town of Hempstead from enforcing a law enacted by former Supervisor Anthony Santino's administration that bans the possession and use of coin-operated air machines for tire inflation.

The law would subject gas station owners to criminal charges, including imprisonment for up to 15 days and fines up to $10,000 per week, for charging a reasonable fee for compressed air, even though it is permitted by New York state law.  

Small business owners and two trade associations that represent hundreds of independent gasoline services stations sued the Town of Hempstead to challenge the constitutionality of the law, which requires gasoline service stations to provide compressed air for tire inflation to anyone without any charge.

In enjoining enforcement of the new law, Justice Murphy focused on the fact that the New York state law, which requires gas stations to have compressed air machines, allows businesses to charge customers for that service. Justice Murphy cited the doctrine of preemption, which prohibits local laws that conflict with state laws or where the state has clearly evinced a desire to occupy an entire field of legislation.

Justice Murphy found that the plaintiffs met their burden for a preliminary injunction pending the resolution of their lawsuit. In addition to the preemption violation, the plaintiffs' complaint alleges a number of other claims including that the new law, which requires business owners to provide a service without compensation, constitutes an unauthorized use of zoning and the town's police powers to micromanage small businesses.  

The plaintiffs are not seeking any monetary damages from the town and even offered to provide and maintain, without any cost, a number of compressed air machines for use for free by the public on town property.

Plaintiff William McCabe is the principal of Service Station Vending Equipment Inc., a small family-run business in Floral Park, which manufactures, installs and maintains coin-operated compressed air machines. He said he fully intends defending this decision and will challenge similar laws in any other municipality. “My company manufactures, installs and maintains the machines at no cost to the location,” McCabe emphasized. “The gas station or convenience store gets a share of the revenue. Everyone wins, most importantly the motorist gets reliable compressed air service 24/7.”
Kevin Beyer, vice-president of governmental affairs for the Long Island Gas Retailers Association Inc., another plaintiff in the action, stated: "I implore the new administration to repeal a law, such as this, from the bygone era of pointless Santino legislation at once. It has no legal foundation as we clearly see from Judge Murphy's ruling. The law also has no regard for small businesses based right here in the Town of Hempstead. And, motorists are still protected by the state law."  

McCabe can be reached at (516) 807-2696, and Kevin Beyer can be reached at (516) 343-2346,