The Suffolk County Legislature approved a bill Tuesday that will start the planning process toward acquiring and preserving land a property currently slated for commercial development in Wading River.
Developer William Zoumas has proposed stores and a restaurant for the vacant 18-acre parcel adjacent to CVS on Route 25A.
Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter said the property is located within the compatible growth area of the Pine Barrens and he asked the Legislature to take the necessary steps to preserve the land.
“We have a lot of development pressure in Wading River,” Mr. Walter said. “If we aren’t able to purchase the property, the downside is the zoning allows for commercial development.”
Riverhead Town officials said the proposed project, called Central Square, is currently under review for site plan approval.
George Bartunek of the North Fork Environmental Council said if the county acquires the property it would serve as a buffer to adjacent commercial areas and would be used as a recreational park by the community.
“It would give residents, students and visitors a better understanding of the significance of not only the Pine Barrens eco-system, but of a parkland versus a paved parking lot,” he said.
The Legislature approved a measure to begin the planning process of acquiring the land by a 17-1 vote, with Legislator Thomas Barraga opposing.
The bill, which was sponsored by Legislator Ed Romaine, allows the county to look into acquiring the land under the Suffolk County Drinking Water Protection Program.