Donald Trump isn’t the only one calling for a wall.
Some residents of the Millbrook Community on Mill Road are suggesting that the developer of The Shops at Riverhead build a sound wall to keep noise out of their community, which is located immediately east of the proposed shopping center.
The Shops at Riverhead currently has one store, Costco Wholesale, but has now proposed an additional 120,000-square-feet of retail on the 41-acre site.
To date, the only proposed tenants shown on plans for the development are Ulta, Petsmart, Marshalls and Home Goods, the latter of which already has a store in Riverhead.
Both residents and town officials said at a Riverhead Planning Board hearing on The Shops at Riverhead last Thursday that they are hoping to avoid a repeat of what happened in 2013, when Brixmor Property Group, the owner of the property, clear cut all the trees at the outset and then later planted berms and buffers to address noise. Neighbors said the berms and buffers were not done property, as the trees died and did not prevent their properties from noise and dust. The developer didn’t plant as many trees as required, they said.
“My primary concern for myself and my neighbors is that we have an effective sound barrier,” said Millbrook resident Cliff Campbell, at the public hearing. He said they have “24-hour noise” currently as a result of the shopping center.
“We need some type of concrete barrier that’s covering at least part of the property boundary,” he said. “I just want to make sure that is taken into full consideration, to run from one side to the other of the area where our homes are located.”
He also suggested the “light pollution” be addressed and that the town find a way to enforce rules requiring that trees planted as a buffer between the stores and neighbors be maintained and kept alive.
“I think my neighbors and my neighbors to the north in Foxwood Village have suffered quite a bit in the last three years and this is an opportunity for the town to mitigate some of those issues.”
“The noise is going to be ridiculous,” said George Buckingham, the manager of Millbrook Community. He suggested replacing a chain-link fence that’s currently along the border with Millbrook with a wall extending 100 feet past the north and south ends of the mobile home park.
He also suggested that the developer should put in the noise and light abatement first.
“If we can get to require them to do all the things we want first, then we can go from there,” Mr. Buckingham said.
Kevin Walsh, an engineer representing Brixmor, said they have redesigned the plans to try to address noise and other issues.
They are proposing to make the building elevations lower in comparison with earlier drawings from 2014, so that most of the first floors of the retail stores will be lower than the top of the berm they’re proposing on the eastern property line.
Chris Kent, an attorney representing Brixmor, said they also have proposed that ramps on loading docks will be below grade on the east side of the proposal buildings and will have walls that visually screen the buildings and reduce the noise associated with the loading docks.
Residents of Foxwood Village told the Planning Board that there were weeds in the berm and the number of trees promised weren’t planted and were allowed to die for most of the past three years. Now, they said when the applicant is proposing additional buildings, they’ve started maintaining the plants.
“The berm now looks well maintained, but I feel that all this last minute attention is precipitated by the pending expansion,” Foxwood Village resident Barbara Ross said. She suggested the town continue holding a performance bond on the project to ensure ongoing maintenance.
“Some of your struggles I share with you,” Planning Board chair Stan Carey told residents. “I’ve lost track of how many times we had to remind them about dead trees.”
Mr. Kent said they will try to plant more trees along the northern border with Foxwood Village.
“We’re tired of the noise, and tired of the aggravation,” Mr. Buckingham said. “Once this (project) comes in, I’m going to be hearing the neighbors complaining all the time.”