Owners of The All Star bowling alley in Riverhead are no longer seeking to install an electronic sign in front of their Route 25 business, something area residents have opposed ever since catching wind of the plan.
Instead, they are now seeking to have a large bowling ball and pin structure in front of the Main Road building.
The pin would be six feet tall and would sit on a 10-foot tall pedestal, bringing the top to 16 feet. The structure would need variances from the Riverhead Zoning Board of Appeals.
Chris Smith, one of the owners, told ZBA board members last week that people driving by who aren’t familiar with the business don’t know what type of business is there.
They’ve had some trouble drawing people in the summer, he said.
The official name of the business is The All Star, with no mention of bowling.
“We want the opportunity to show the public that we are a bowling alley,” he said, adding that since the area already has farm stands with giant strawberries out front, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to have a giant bowling pin.
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But ZBA member Otto Wittmeier asked why the owners don’t have the word “bowling” in their business’ name.
Mr. Smith said that they don’t want to be known as just a bowling alley, since there is a restaurant and bar, game room and often live music at the business as well.
They need ZBA variances for the height of the proposed sign, which is one foot over the 15-foot height limit, and for the overall square footage, which is 96 square feet, instead of the maximum permitted square footage of 32 square feet.
They also seek permission to have a telephone number on the sign, something the town doesn’t allow, and which ZBA members said they won’t allow.
Jeff Rimland, another owner of the business, said in an interview after last Thursday’s ZBA meeting that he feels it’s not accurate to say the proposed sign is 96 square feet. In coming up with that number, the town essentially drew an imaginary box around the outskirts of the sign.
This, he said, is counting “air” as part of the sign’s square footage.
The All Star originally proposed an internally lit digital sign in front of the business, but that met with a number of letters in opposition, saying it was out of step with the character of Main Road and the North Fork as a whole.
The ZBA originally scheduled a hearing for the digital sign proposal on April 25, but it was adjured or rescheduled a number of times.
A number of residents who live nearby had attended the scheduled May 9 hearing to voice their opposition to the internally lit sign, but that hearing never took place because Mr. Rimland forgot to bring proof that mailings were sent to neighboring residents to notify them of the it.
ZBA member Leroy Barnes said they have had numerous adjournments of hearings of late, on The All Star’s and those of other proposals, which he feels dilutes the public’s response to projects, and he suggested the ZBA crack down on it.
There were only two speakers at last Thursday’s hearing on the sign, and both were representatives of the Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition, an association of civic groups.
Dominique Mendez, the group’s president, read a letter from South Jamesport resident Larry Simms, who said a 96-square-foot sign is a billboard, not a sign, and that he sees no reason the applicant can’t find a way to comply with the town code without needing a ZBA variance because there are no trees concealing the sign. Phil Barbato, the group’s vice president, also urged ZBA members to deny the variance requests, saying that this area is “becoming Jericho Turnpike all over again. It’s creeping east.”
The ZBA took no action on the proposal and the hearing was held over to the July 25 meeting.