Little pushback on hearing to re-zone Second St. firehouse

09/18/2014 1:19 PM |
The Second Street firehouse was obtained by Riverhead in 2011 in a land swap with the Riverhead Fire District. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch file)

The Second Street firehouse was obtained by Riverhead in 2011 in a land swap with the Riverhead Fire District. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch file)

Only one member of the public spoke at a public hearing Tuesday about a proposal to rezone the town-owned Second Street firehouse to a more business-friendly zone — a rezoning sought by Suffolk Theater owner Bob Castaldi as a condition of his proposal to buy the building from the town for $500,000. 

That one speaker was Angela DeVito of South Jamesport, who was the Democratic candidate for supervisor in the last town election. She expressed the concern that by extending the Downtown Center-1 zone, which currently covers most of downtown Main Street, to the firehouse property, the town is infringing on residents who live on Second Street.

The DC-4 district that currently covers Second Street was intended to be a buffer between business and residential areas, Ms. DeVito said.

She suggested that rezoning just the one property was spot zoning and added: “You need young families to be there all the time.” The town is only selling the building, and not the parking lot, which was recently added to the town’s public parking district.

Mr. Castaldi was present at the hearing but did not speak. He was one of only two people who responded to a town request for proposals to buy the firehouse, which the town acquired in a land swap with the Riverhead Fire District in 2011 but has yet to find a use for.

Originally, Mr. Castaldi bid $375,000 for the building, which was the highest bid, but a majority of the Town Board later changed their minds on selling the building, and instead suggested it have a municipal use.  However, when that plan fell apart, the Town Board later agreed to sell the building to Mr. Castaldi for $500,000, and Mr. Castaldi in turn, asked that it be rezoned to DC-1, which allows more attractive commercial uses than DC-4.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio has said she felt the board should have reissued the RFP with the DC-1 zoning, since the town may haves received more offers if that zoning was included in the original RFP.

The town is only selling the building, and not the parking lot, which was recently added to the town’s public parking district. The property — including the parking lot — was appraised at $1.8 million in 2009, according to officials.

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