The National Register Historic District proposed for Main Road in Aquebogue, Jamesport and Laurel has already been rejected by the Riverhead Town Board — and it appears to be one heading that way with the Southold Town Board as well.
“The Town Board had decided that the fate of the proposed district in Southold would be left to the will of the property owners who own land included in the proposed district,” Southold Supervisor Scott Russell said. “We have had 19 owners raise objections and only four show support. Southold cannot support the proposed district moving forward based on those figures.”
Southold Councilman Bill Ruland said there’s been no formal position taken by the Town Board, but that the majority of the feedback the officials have received has been in opposition to the historic district.
Mr. Russell said if Riverhead withdraws its application, Southold’s application is automatically withdrawn as well.
“Districts are created by historical assets, not by geopolitical boundaries. It was one district hence, one withdrawal,” Mr. Russell said.
He pointed out, however, that Riverhead has not technically withdrawn its application, since the application was made by the towns’ landmarks preservation commissions.
“That is a decision that can only be made by the Landmarks Preservation commissioners,” he said. “The [Riverhead] Town Board letter was a written objection but, by itself, won’t result in a withdrawal.”
Riverhead’s Landmarks Preservation Commission is scheduled to meet Monday at 4 p.m. in Riverhead Town Hall.
The historic district had a total of 354 parcels proposed for inclusion – 312 in Riverhead Town and 42 in Southold Town.
But some of the owners of those properties owned more than one property, so the number of actual property owners within the proposed district was a smaller number.
The Riverhead Town Board on Wednesday sent a letter to Richard Wines, the chairman of Riverhead’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, and one to Ruth Pierpont, deputy commissioner for historic preservation with the state Office of Parks and Recreation, requesting that the application be withdrawn immediately.
The letter was signed by Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilmen George Gabrielsen, John Dunleavy and Jim Wooten, but not by Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, who is the board’s liaison to the town’s Landmarks Commission.
She said she wanted to discuss it with the commission at Monday’s meeting.
“We should at least let the people that have worked on this for two years have the opportunity to be heard on it,” Ms. Giglio said on Thursday.
She said the Town Board had previously been unanimous in its support of moving forward with the district.
The letter from the Riverhead Town Board majority comes on the heels of petition submitted to the Riverhead Town Board by 75 property owners demanding the application for the district be withdrawn.
Mr. Gabrielsen, whose brother and son signed the petition and whose son collected signatures, said that only about 25 percent of the property owners in the proposed district were asked to sign the petition, and that many more could have signed it if they continued to seek additional petitions.
Many business owners and families who had been in the town for hundreds of years were among those who signed the petition.
“Clearly this didn’t have support,” Mr. Gabrielsen said.