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Town backs off on Jamesport-Aquebogue Corridor study

05/14/2016 4:47 PM |

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Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter said a proposed study for the Jamesport-Aquebogue corridor along Main Road is off, saying civic leaders in the area have flip-flopped on the issue of updating the town’s plan for the area.

“I don’t think the Jamesport civic association speaks for the residents of the area, but there’s no groundswell of support to update the master plan,” Mr. Walter said. “I think the civic association is misguided, but we’re going to leave it alone.”

At recent Town Board meetings, the board discussed studying the area around the hamlets at a cost of $43,000 as a first step to update the town’s Master Plan. But leaders from the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association opposed the idea, saying it would be too costly and cumbersome and wouldn’t be completed in time to address pending projects.

The Democrats in last fall’s election had run on a party platform of updating the Master Plan. The Jamesport civic group itself isn’t affiliated with a local political party, though its leader, Angela DeVito, had run against Mr. Walter on the Democratic line for the supervisor’s seat in 2013.

The civic group’s opposition, Mr. Walter said, amounts to an about-face, adding that Ms. DeVito should be “called out” for opposing the corridor study. He said critics “can’t complain” when the area is developed further.

The group is preparing its own eight-step plan for new policies for the area, including banning chain stores from the corridor, reducing the maximum size of businesses and allowing special permits so long as development is limited to 60 percent of the property.

And at Saturday’s civic group meeting, the feud between Ms. DeVito and Town Supervisor Sean Walter continued, as the civic leader slammed Mr. Walter over discussions to cap spending on a park in the area at $10,000.

The Town Board set the $10,000 limit after Mr. Walter explained the Community Preservation Fund was bankrupt and that the town had to be frugal with its expenditures. On Saturday, Ms. DeVito said the money for a corridor study could have been put towards the local park.

“In the meantime, [the town] has created pocket parks all over Riverhead and don’t worry about maintaining them — never an issue of cost for them,” said Ms. DeVito. “It’s just pure spite on Sean’s part … He didn’t get what he wanted and he’s getting back at us by trying to put roadblocks in place.”

Those allegations were forcefully denied by Mr. Walter, who stated the corridor study funds could not be used in place of CPF money.

“If she makes that claim, I can’t help her,” he said.

The civic group has already begun working with two Town Board members to push forward with their own proposals. Ms. DeVito said recent meetings with Councilwoman Jodi Giglio and Councilman Tim Hubbard were productive. The civic group plans to complete its proposals one at a time and present them — fully-realized — for the board to vote on.

At Saturday’s meeting, Ms. DeVito seemed confident the civic group could get their proposals approved through a Town Board resolution vote, even if Mr. Walter opposed them.

“We only need three votes,” Ms. DeVito said. “We don’t need his.”

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