12/19/14 1:10pm
12/19/2014 1:10 PM
Sherry Patterson, president of the PBMC board of directors, speaks before the Planning Board Thursday

Sherry Patterson, president of the PBMC board of directors, speaks before the Planning Board Thursday at a hearing on a proposed hospital annex on Route 58

While no one questioned the need for Peconic Bay Medical Center’s proposed hospital annex in the parking lot of Bob’s Discount Furniture on Route 58, the location drew some concerns at a public hearing before the Riverhead Town Planning Board Thursday night.

The plans call for construction of a 3,500 square foot building in the southeast corner of the Gateway Plaza, which is the name of the shopping center with Walmart and Bob’s Discount Furniture. PBMC also indicated it plans a possible future expansion of nearly 2,000 square feet in the future.

The goal is to eventually have non-emergency patients come to this site, and not to the emergency room, as currently happens, officials said.

“I don’t think anyone would disagree that hospital emergency rooms are being used as walk-in clinics by people that don’t have insurance,” said Kimberly Judd, the attorney for PBMC. The proposed annex would free up the emergency room for emergencies, she said.

“Our emergency room is at capacity and if you go there, particularly on the weekends, or in the evenings when any of the typical urgent care centers are closed, you can’t get in,” said PBMC board president Sherry Patterson.

“The beds are in the halls, parking is at a maximum; there’s just nowhere else to go. If you want your community hospital to continue to serve you the best way they can, this is something that we really truly need. It’s something the community really truly needs.”

Ron McManus, PBMC’s senior vice president, said the ER wait time can run as long as 6 to 9 hours because of the large volume of visitors — about 38,000 visits per year.

He said about 38 percent of the patients who go to emergency department can be seen at a lower level of care, which is what is being proposed by the annex.

Planning Board member Stan Carey said no one doubts the need for the facility, but he questioned the location.

“On my way here today at about 2 p.m., it took about 17 minutes to get past that location,” Mr. Carey said. “Traffic was backed up without an emergency facility there.”

If an ambulance were trying to take an emergency patient to the hospital’s main campus, he asked, “how would they get out of there?  The cars were blocked up in the intersection. You couldn’t move. They were actually blocking the green light.”

Mr. McManus said that while there will be an ambulance on site at the annex, the frequency of times when an ambulance will need to transport a patient from the annex to the main campus is expected to be rare.

Patients who go to the emergency room with non-emergency situations will be seen there, but PBMC expects that eventually, people will learn to go to the annex with non-emergency cases.

Planning Board member Lyle Wells and resident Richard Luzzi also questioned the location.

“We have Kroemer Avenue that’s starting to grow and yet we have a dysfunctional light system,” Mr. Wells said.

“I don’t think that spot can support another building,” Mr. Luzzi said, adding that the number of cars going to that shopping center has been increasing.

“The design of that whole shopping center needs a lot of work,” he said.

Residents Ken LeBohner and Howard Young both voiced support for PBMC.

“It’s a wonderful care facility and I would trust them with my life, and have,” Mr. Young said.

As for the location, Ms. Patterson said hospital officials looked at every vacant building and property in town and chose this one because of its location near the Long Island Expressway.

“One of the things we didn’t want to do is locate it deep into the heart of Route 58, where it would be drawing traffic from the LIE into town,” she said.

In addition, anything east of Northville Turnpike can’t be considered because it would not be within the town sewer district, and hospital buildings, by law, are required to have separate heating, ventilation and air condition systems from other buildings, she said.

The hospital’s service area is about 400 square miles and ranges from east of the William Floyd Parkway, the entire North Fork, and the South Fork from Hampton Bays west, Mr. McManus said.

Ms. Judd said that if another retail store were proposed in this location, the traffic generation would be greater. Traffic counts show that the peak hours for retail is in the late afternoon and at night, whereas the peak for PBMC’s new Manorville campus — similar to what is proposed on Route 58 — is in the morning, she said.

The Planning Board closed the public hearing but did not rule on the application.

12/15/14 10:00am
12/15/2014 10:00 AM
A 7,200 sf retail building is proposed for this grass lot in Applebee's parking on Rt 58

A 7,200-square-foot retail building is proposed for this grass lot in the Applebee’s parking on Route 58. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

More stores appear headed to the west end of Route 58.

The owners of the property where Applebee’s restaurant is located are proposing to build a 7,200-square-foot retail building featuring two stores on what is now an undeveloped grass pad in the east end of Applebee’s parking lot.

Applicant SL Gateway II, LLC and UB Riverhead II, LLC, which have like ownership to the Applebee’s property and the adjacent Walmart and Bob’s Discount Furniture shopping center, are proposing retail stores of 4,200 and 3,000 square feet, respectively, in the new building.

The properties are both listed by New Jersey-based Lerner Properties.

According to Kimberly Judd, the attorney for the developers, the Applebee’s site plan for property was approved in 1999, when the land was zoned Industrial A. The site plan included the stores in the eastern pad and the developers proceeded to build the restaurant, the parking lot, the lights and all of the infrastructure.

The only thing never built were the stores.

In 2000, the town rezoned the property to Destination Retail Center zoning, which actually required larger stores than what was previously approved for the site.

As a result, the applicant needed to go to the Riverhead Town Zoning Board of Appeals Thursday night to get variances to allow them to build less than what the zoning requires.

Under the DRC zoning, the minimum building size is 10,000 square feet, and the minimum store size is 3,500 square feet, which meant that the previously approved retail building no longer conformed with zoning.

“What we’re asking for is more restrictive” than zoning allows, Ms. Judd said.

The application also required some ZBA variances to allow the side yard setbacks, which conformed under Industrial A back in 1999 but not under DRC now, to be less that what zoning allows.

“The proposed variances are not substantial,” Ms. Judd told the ZBA Thursday. “We would have to rip up the parking and curbing otherwise.”

The ZBA approved the variances by a 4-0 vote, with ZBA member Frank Seabrook absent.

Asked afterward if there are any tenants lined up for the proposed new buildings, applicant Jason Lerner said, “None that we want to announce at this time.”

tgannon@timesreview.com

12/13/14 2:30pm
12/13/2014 2:30 PM
The outside of Ninow's new location in downtown Riverhead. (Credit: Rachel Young, file)

30 West Main Street in downtown Riverhead, which currently houses Ninow’s Music Store on the first floor. (Credit: Rachel Young, file)

The Riverhead Chamber of Commerce will officiate a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday, Dec. 17, at 10 a.m. to recognize the opening of 30 West Main Street in downtown Riverhead, the Riverhead Industrial Development Agency said.  (more…)

12/11/14 4:30pm
12/11/2014 4:30 PM
Developer Michael Butler leads Pat Snyder, the East End Arts director, on a tour of the building during an open house Wendesday night. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Developer Michael Butler leads Pat Snyder, the East End Arts director, on a tour of the building during an open house Wendesday night. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Forty people have already put in applications for the 19 available apartment spaces in the newly-renovated former Woolworth building.

But developer Michael Butler said potential renters shouldn’t be discouraged; the building is set to take in its first tenants next year, he said, but it will still have openings.  (more…)

12/11/14 2:53pm
Crooked Ladder Brewing Company co-owner Duffy Griffiths unloads empty barrels as his sales manager Nate Payne brings them inside to be washed and filled. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Crooked Ladder Brewing Company co-owner Duffy Griffiths unloads empty barrels as his sales manager Nate Payne brings them inside to be washed and filled. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

The rise of the craft beer industry in the past few years has been well documented by the national media.

In fact, The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Budweiser is shifting its marketing strategy to combat the proliferation of microbreweries — and even smaller nanobreweries — and enhance its appeal to a younger audience as loyal Bud fans age and a new generation of beer lovers gravitates toward specialty brews. (more…)