Town Board requests withdrawal of historic designation proposal

10/22/2014 8:00 PM |
A six-mile stretch of Main Road could be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The corridor includes Aquebogue’s Old Steeple Church, built in 1862 and designed by a farmer with no architectural experience, as well as Aquebogue Cemetery, which dates back to 1755 and contains the graves of numerous Revolutionary War soldiers. (Credit: Andrew Lepre)

A six-mile stretch of Main Road could be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The corridor includes Aquebogue’s Old Steeple Church, built in 1862 and designed by a farmer with no architectural experience, as well as Aquebogue Cemetery, which dates back to 1755 and contains the graves of numerous Revolutionary War soldiers. (Credit: Andrew Lepre)

Four of the five Riverhead Town Board members have signed a letter asking the town’s Landmarks Preservation Commission and the state Office of Parks and Recreation to withdraw the town’s application for a proposed National Register Historic District along Main Road in Aquebogue, Jamesport and Laurel, according to Councilman George Gabrielsen. 

The proposed district also covers part of Southold Town, but Riverhead’s withdrawal of the application would kill it in Southold too, the councilman said.

Mr. Gabrielsen said the letter was sent Wednesday afternoon and was signed by himself, Councilman Jim Wooten, Councilman John Dunleavy and Supervisor Sean Walter. Councilwoman Jodi Giglio had asked for more time, Mr. Gabrielsen said.

“We respectfully request that you immediately withdraw the application for the proposed Main Road National Registry district,” the letter to Riverhead’s Landmarks Preservation Commission chairman Richard Wines states. The commission co-sponsored the application along with the Southold Town Historic Preservation Commission.

“The response from our constituents with property on Main Road was overwhelmingly in opposition to this proposal,” the letter goes on to state.  “It’s quite clear that the historic district is not wanted.”

A similar letter was sent to Ruth Pierpont, deputy commissioner for historic preservation with the state Office of Parks and Recreation, Mr. Gabrielsen said.

Mr. Wines said Wednesday that he received the letter later in the day and that it would be up to the members of the Landmarks Commission to formally withdraw it when they meet on Monday. He said that while the landmarks commission applied for the district and would ideally need to be the ones to withdraw it, the letter from the Town Board would likely carry more weight.

“In the real world, one doesn’t want to go on with something like this unless there’s a lot of support for it,” he said.

meeting in mid-August at the Jamesport Meeting House on the proposal brought out a few vocal opponents of the designation, though many in attendance voiced no opposition.

A petition was then submitted to the Riverhead Town Board last week with 75 signatures calling for the historic district application to to be withdrawn. Mr. Wines said there are about 400 property owners in the proposed district and normally a petition signed by 50 percent of the property owners would be required to defeat the proposal under state law.

He said that since multiple owners of some properties signed the petition, the number of properties represented is probably about 50.

Mr. Gabrielsen, whose brother and son signed the petition, says that they only sought signatures from about 20 percent of the proposed district.

The Riverhead Town Landmarks Preservation Commission has a meeting scheduled for Monday at 4 p.m. at Riverhead Town Hall. during which Mr. Wines had hoped to hear from the public on their reasons for opposing the proposed district.

He says the proposed district would not put any restrictions on homeowners, and would enable owners of buildings over 50 years old to qualify for state tax credits should they do repairs or restoration work to those structures.

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