Planning Board takes up North Shore Country Plaza application

06/23/2012 9:00 AM |

BARBARELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Site of the North Shore Country Plaza in Wading River.

Critics of development in Wading River called on the town Planning Board to hold off on considering a commercial project for Route 25A because of possible flaws in the application, as well as expected zoning changes.

The project, called North Shore Country Plaza, calls for 43,646 square feet of development on 11 acres, including two restaurants and 29 smaller stores in three buildings, on the north side of Route 25A.

Its one of several controversial retail development projects planned for the corridor, whose zoning is under review by the town.

North Shore Country Plaza’s commercial application was discussed at the town Planning Board meeting Thursday in Riverhead Town Hall.

There, Dominique Mendez of the Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition civic group said the application shouldn’t be reviewed because the code calls for four buildings and the application only shows three, and because the Town Board is planning to rezone the property to a zoning category that wouldn’t allow retail.

But planners said the call for four buildings is only a guideline.

Ms. Mendez said told a reporter after the meeting that when she raised concerns about North Shore Country Plaza moving forward despite the Town Board’s intention to rezone the property, Supervisor Sean Walter assured her it would not move forward.

But after Thursday’s Planning Board meeting, she said, “Based on what we saw today, it looks to me that [North Shore County Plaza] is going full steam ahead and the intent is to fast track it so they can weasel their way out of the new zoning.

“It’s exactly what we said would happen if the Town Board didn’t impose a moratorium.”

An attorney representing the applicant said his client would considering suing the town if it ran interference on the project.

“We had a comprehensive plan, we had zoning recommendations that were followed, and to change the plan now, in the middle of someone’s application, I think, is actionable,” said Peter Danowski, the attorney, after the meeting. “We have a plan that is well designed and will be a benefit to the town. It’s unfair to have a pending application that is not acted upon and then change the zoning.”

The property in question is owned by the Condzella and Partridge families and located just east of the ice cream store.

The Town Board, meanwhile, plans to move forward with a public hearing on the zoning changes recommended by BFJ Planning of Manhattan, the planning firm the town commissioned to conduct a study in Wading River for $42,000.

Town officials said they believe that hearing will be held in Town Hall in early August.

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