Members of the Save Main Road group kicked off a campaign Saturday to raise money for legal action challenging the Riverhead Town Board’s approval of the controversial Village at Jamesport project.
About 40 people attended Save Main Road’s second public meeting held at the Jamesport Meeting House, where organizers gave an update on the grassroots effort organizers claim is needed to maintain Jamesport’s rural character.
Jamesport Development LLC has proposed a 42,000-square-foot shopping center, called the Village at Jamesport, for 9.7 acres north of Route 25 and west of Manor Lane.
The Town Board recently approved two special use permits. One allows professional offices totaling 17,000 square feet and the other up to 8,000 square feet for two bistros.
Larry Simms, a part-time Jamesport resident and project opponent, said the Northern Environmental Law Center, a nonprofit legal team based on the South Fork, has taken on Save Main Road’s case to overturn the Town Board’s approval.
Mr. Simms said he believes the town couldn’t approve the special permits because it didn’t properly determine what the project’s benefit would be to the community.
For example, Mr. Simms said the Town Board failed take into consideration how two new restaurants would affect the neighborhood’s existing six eateries.
In addition, Mr. Simms said the resolutions approved by the Town Board falsely stated a benefit of the project includes a reduction in car trips on the weekends and would decrease traffic congestion and motor vehicle noise.
Mr. Simms said the project’s environmental assessment lists the town’s traffic analysis that estimates the project would generate 207 car trips during peak hours on Saturdays, up from an estimated 205 trips that would occur under an as-of-right development.
An as-of-right development would only allow the developer to build retail stores.
“What we have is a situation where our Town Board members either don’t read any of these things, or don’t listen to what we say, or don’t care,” Mr. Simms said.
In addition to raising legal funds to overturn the special permit approvals, civic leaders said they have also retained legal counsel to help guide community groups through the site plan process.
Georgette Keller, president of the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association, said her group is soliciting residents to sign a petition to require the town to hold a public hearing on the site plan.
“When there’s a crowd of us all standing together, we’ll be shoulder to shoulder,” she said. “Whenever somebody gets tired, you’ll have someone to lean on.”
The Southold-based Group for the East End has also signed on and will be offering a matching grant to help raise legal funds.
Bob DeLuca, the group’s president, said his organization will match every dollar, up to $3,000, for the Save Main Road legal fund.
Ms. Keller, a school teacher and former paralegal, also provided an update on research she conducted on incorporating Jamesport. A village, with its own zoning laws, could be used to protect the community from development, she said.
Some of those requirements including garnering support from 500 residents, as well as a $6,000 deposit for filing and noticing fees.
“If we come to a point where we want to start looking at the advantages and disadvantages, I think the next step is to form a committee to begin looking into that,” she said. “We have two new villages, Westhampton Dunes and Sagaponack. It’s becoming a trend on the East End.”