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Riverhead Town stops work on lot owned by supervisor’s brother

09/29/2015 6:04 PM |

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The town supervisor’s brother has been issued a stop work order for an alleged code violation on a vacant lot behind his Herricks Lane home after a neighbor complained to police about loud landscaping equipment noises.

Town Attorney Robert Kozakiewicz said a code violation was discovered Monday on the property of James Walter, though he declined to go into specifics about which section of the town code had been violated, citing an ongoing investigation.

Town code enforcement officer Richard Downs also wouldn’t comment on the stop work order at the property behind the home of Mr. Walter, who is the brother of Town Supervisor Sean Walter.

“As far as I’m concerned, as the issuing officer, there were violations on the property,” Mr. Downs said, declining to specify which town codes had been violated due to the same “ongoing investigation.”

According to a Riverhead police report filed Monday morning, someone called 911 to report workers “operating a chainsaw” about 7:30 a.m.

The responding police officer spoke to a worker there using a hedge clipper and advised him not to use the tool until after 8 a.m.

Photos sent to the News-Review also show someone operating a wood chipper in the backyard, and a row of landscaping vehicles parked in front of Mr. Walter’s property.

On Monday, an excavator and pickup truck could be seen from the street parked on the vacant lot.

The Herricks Lane site was purchased on July 1, 2015 for $247,500 and is currently zoned for residential or agricultural use.

Mr. Walter is a teacher in the Riverhead School District who also operates a company called Blue Waves Landscaping. He owns a house in Flanders as well.

Outside the Herricks Lane property Monday evening, Mr. Walter declined to comment about what was happening on his vacant lot. However, he did say he would be constructing a fence around the entirety of his property and accused a neighbor of taking pictures of the property and his family.

He then walked to the stop work order posted on the back of his property and turned it to face away from the street.

Supervisor Walter declined to comment Tuesday.

“You wouldn’t be writing this story except that it’s my brother,” he said.

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Photo caption: Mr. Walter turns a stop work order sign on his Jamesport property to obscure it from a reporter’s camera Monday evening. (Credit: Paul Squire)

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