A proposed 40,000-square-foot shopping center on Route 25A in Wading River ran into opposition from neighbors at a public hearing before the Riverhead Town Planning Board Thursday night.
Residents said the Venezia Square application may be too large for its proposed location. They expressed concern that it could worsen existing flooding problems in the area, which they say were exacerbated when McDonald’s and Walgreens were built.
Applicants Joseph Vento and Jim Tsunis are proposing the development on a vacant 6.34-acre property on the south side of Route 25A.
It would include three 10,000-square-foot retail buildings, as well as a bank with a drive-through window; an 84-seat restaurant and two smaller take-out restaurants, according to the application.
Several residents of Meadow Path, which is just south of the proposed development, said the project is too big and they feared it would lead to flooding.
“We do have a lot of problems with the traffic in the area, we do have a problem a lot of problems with drainage, we do already have a substantial number of stores, restaurants, banks… all the things that are being proposed here,” said Jean Mostaccio of Meadow Path. “This is not good for the community.”
She said there are a number of vacant stores already in Wading River as well as traffic problems.
“We don’t want this to turn into Rocky Point, where the next stage is that we’re being asked or told that we have to widen the roadways. ” she said.
Meadow Path residents Maureen Bourguignon, Heather Anne Poliseno and Kelli Cutinella all raised the flooding issue and said they feel the project should be scaled down.
“Consider how this is affecting human lives, and the people who live behind this community,” Ms. Cutinella said. “I don’t think we need to have another bank, or another pizza parlor or things like that. It’s not going to help.”
Sid Bail of the Wading River Civic Association said some of the comments the town planning department made on the plan are significant, like town design guidelines that were not being met.
He said the public hasn’t had enough time to review and comment on the plan and asked that the hearing be kept open. The public hearing will continue at the Jan. 7 meeting.
Jenn Hartnagel of Group for the East End, a non-profit environmental organization, also asked that the hearing be held open, saying there has been no traffic analysis conducted on the plan or the proposed traffic signal.
“If the clearing restrictions can’t be met, if there’s horrific traffic problems and if you’re losing the configuration of a campus style versus a strip mall, then we would support asking the Planning Board to potentially require a scaled down version of this project,” she said. “Maybe there’s just too much on this site.”
Peter Danowski, the attorney for the applicant, said the existing farm behind the property, which residents said has contributed to flooding, has nothing to do with this property.
He said he fully expects the application to meet all town and state requirements, and that they intend to have a buffer to shield neighbors from the development and to leave as much of the existing trees as possible.
The applicant also has agreed to allow a cross easement with the property to the east, on which there is also a pending development application, Mr. Danowski said.
Mr. Vento has owned the property for more than 20 years, Mr. Danowski said.
The developers propose to have an entrance and exit on the west end of the property, adjacent to Alexander Tuthill Funeral Home, and they propose to have that entrance line up with Dogwood Drive on the north side of Route 25A, with a new traffic signal installed.
The latter would need state Department of Transportation approval. An entrance is also proposed on the eastern side of the property that the applicant now says will be a right-turn only exit. That was one of several changes the applicant made prior to the hearing.
Photo Caption: The site of the proposed Venezia Square development in Wading River. (Credit: Google maps)