The Riverhead Zoning Board of Appeals will likely reach a decision later this month on the controversial proposal to expand the Jamesport Center by nearly three times its current size, according to ZBA chairman Fred McLaughlin.
But Jim DeLucca, a representative for property owner Alan Cardinale, emphasized at Thursday’s ZBA meeting that Mr. Cardinale will move forward with an expansion regardless of whether he gets variance approvals from the ZBA by simply reducing the size of the project by about 1,300 square feet.
“The owner will be more than happy to talk to people about this, but he is still entitled to build on his property and he is going to do that,” Mr. DeLucca said.
The variances sought by Mr. Cardinale seek to have 83 percent impervious surface instead of the maximum permitted 60 percent, and seeks to also have 166 parking spaces instead of the required 171 at the Main Road property.
The proposal calls for a 28,379-square-foot addition being built to the south of the existing 16,394 square foot shopping center.
Mr. DeLucca says that by reducing the size of the proposed addition to 27,000 square feet, it can be built without any ZBA variances.
In addition, if Mr. Cardinale sought to have a pervious parking lot for the addition, such as a gravel parking lot, it would meet code and not need a ZBA variance, although Mr. DeLucca said gravel parking lots are difficult to maintain.
“Regardless of whether the proposed variances are granted, we will proceed ahead with this project,” Mr. DeLucca said.
The plan would clear most of the trees to the south of the 4.4-acre property, which extends west to Washington Avenue, and it would have two exit/entrances to the shopping center on Washington Avenue.
At a Dec. 10 ZBA hearing on the Jamesport Center proposal —the application is called Jamesport Plaza LLC — a number of Jamesport residents turned out in opposition to the plan.
They said the existing shopping center already has a number of vacancies and that by putting the entrance/exit on Washington Avenue, it would encroach on homes there.
They said it was out of character with the community and doesn’t comply with zoning that prohibits a single retail store from being more than 10,000 square feet.
Mr. DeLucca said one of the vacant storefronts will be getting a Dunkin’ Donuts soon and there is interest in others.
He said grocery chains such as Trader Joe’s, Wild by Nature and Key Food are interested in building smaller stores in the area proposed to be expanded.
The project would still need to be approved by the town Planning Board whether it receives ZBA approvals or not.
The ZBA meets again Jan. 28, when a decision is expected.