03/27/14 7:00pm
03/27/2014 7:00 PM
The site of the Costco/Shops at Riverhead plaza on Route 58. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

The site of the Costco/Shops at Riverhead plaza on Route 58 on Thursday. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

The developers of the Costco/Shops at Riverhead development on Route 58 have been issued a stop work order barring them from taking sand on or off the site, according to Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz.

“There’s an allegation that they were exporting sand, as seen by code enforcement officer Richard Downs on Tuesday,” Mr. Kozakiewicz said.


03/27/14 5:00pm
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Bridgehampton National Bank Mattituck branch manager Deborah Orlowski and her employees will be moving into the former SCNB building on the Main Road in Mattituck this summer after it is remodeled.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Bridgehampton National Bank Mattituck branch manager Deborah Orlowski and her employees will be moving into the former SCNB building on the Main Road in Mattituck this summer after it is remodeled.

Call it the House that Orlowski Built.

After four years of growth at Bridgehampton National Bank’s shopping center branch in the Mattituck Plaza, the branch and its employees — including longtime Mattituck banker Debbie Orlowski — are moving across Main Road to the brick building recently vacated by Suffolk County National Bank.

“The exterior’s being worked on right now,” said Jim Manseau, who oversees all of the bank’s 26 branches from Montauk to Merrick. “The building was power-washed the other day. We’re going to seal and stripe the parking lot. And we’re doing some pretty decent renovations to the interior — new bathrooms, paint, rugs — an entire re-do.”

The company and landlord are just waiting on town building permits, he said. The plan is to open before the end of summer.

Mr. Manseau said the move was made possible because of how much the Mattituck branch has grown since hiring Ms. Orlowski from Capital One four years ago. She had worked for 38 years at North Fork Bank — back when it was called North Fork Bank and Trust Company and had just six branches — and Capital One before leaving in May 2010 for Bridgehampton.

“We’ve grown from $18 million to $55 million” since acquiring Ms. Orlowski, Mr. Manseau said.

Ms. Orlowski credits her success to the decades’ worth of relationships and trust she’s built with area clients.

“I started here May 3 of 2010 and it’s been wonderful,” she said. “I took a small branch that had been here for about 20 years and actually more than tripled the deposits. I’m kind of proud of that.”

Not much thought went into the decision to lease the building, Mr. Manseau said.

“We were contacted by someone after [Suffolk County National Bank] left and we said, ‘Absolutely,’<\!q>” he said. “We really believe in the Mattituck marketplace and that’s a great space, with plenty of parking and a drive-up window.”

The same staff customers have grown accustomed to in the plaza’s location, which has been in operation since 1992, will also make the move.

“The plan is, when the time comes, we’ll open Saturday in the shopping center and come Monday morning we’ll be open across the street,” Mr. Manseau said.

The 104-year-old Bridgehampton National Bank, which is based in Bridgehampton and just opened a Shelter Island branch last year, is getting ready to open a loan production storefront in Riverhead and is renovating its Southold and Sag Harbor stores, Mr. Manseau said.

The bank is also expanding its footprint to the west.

“We’re in Greenport, Shelter Island and Montauk, so you can’t go farther east,” he said. “But we want to continue to address our more mature marketplaces.”

Officials with Suffolk Bancorp, the parent company of SCNB, announced in November the branch would be closing by March, along with three other branches in Port Jefferson Station, Manorville and Montauk Harbor.

At the time, Suffolk Bancorp president and CEO Howard Bluver said the branches would close to make the bank more “efficient and nimble” and to protect the “best core deposit franchises.”

“Following these actions, we will continue to have the premier branch system in Suffolk County, consisting of 24 branches situated in key locations throughout the entire county,” Mr. Bluver said. He added that the locations were picked for closure following an analysis of the company’s branches by an outside consultant.

The Mattituck branch closed on Feb. 14 and the property, which had been owned by Suffolk Bancorp, was sold shortly thereafter, bank officials said this week.

03/24/14 5:00pm
03/24/2014 5:00 PM
Tom Edler from Riverhead finishes up a chalkboard drawing at the Starbucks on Route 58. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Tom Edler from Riverhead finishes up a chalkboard drawing at the Starbucks on Route 58. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Good news for Riverheaders looking for their coffee fix: the Starbucks on Route 58 is now open.

And next-door, a new structure is being built to house a Vitamin Shoppe, officials with the Saber plaza said.

The coffee shop held a soft opening Monday, and will host a grand opening celebration in four weeks, said supervisor Amanda Delong. The store, which is located in the shopping center just east of Riverhead Raceway that holds Christmas Tree Shops, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Aldi’s, includes a drive-through window and will be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day, she said.

That shopping center also includes a Dick’s Sporting GoodsFive BelowAldiChristmas Tree Shop, and a Buffalo Wild Wings. 

“We’re just trying to get the word out, but so far [business] has been good,” Ms. Delong said.

The building next door — which is still under construction — will be a Vitamin Shoppe that is expected to open near the end of June, a Saber employee said.


03/21/14 11:08am
03/21/2014 11:08 AM
Chuck Chockalingam suggested that he feels the board was biased against him. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

An application filed by Chuck Chockalingam was rejected on Thursday night. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

A plan to build a 3,200-square-foot restaurant on three-tenths of an acre on Route 58 was rejected by the Riverhead Planning Board Thursday, following a debate in which the applicant implied there was a bias against him, though stopped short of calling it racism.

On a resolution to approve the 24-seat restaurant, the vote was 3-2 against, with board members Ed Densieski, Stan Carey and Lyle Wells opposed, and Richard O’Dea and Joe Baier in favor. The vote on the application — first filed in October of 2012 — had been delayed for several meetings due to a lack of a full board at the last four meetings, and the three board members who voted against the application had all publicly stated their position at prior meetings.

Applicant Chuck Chockalingam, who said he is of Indian descent, suggested that he feels the board was biased against him in a memo to the board asking the board members who opposed the application to “reconsider their votes based not the merits of the application without any prejudice and bias.”

Bill Duffy, the planning board attorney, asked Mr. Chockalingam to specify what he was meant by that.

“Have you received anything from this board that said anything to make you think they’re being prejudiced or biased?” Mr. Duffy asked.

“No, but the indications are leading to that, because following the hearings going over two years, I’ve basically done everything the board has wanted,” Mr. Chockalingam said.

He said every time he meets a requirement the board makes, another one is added on, such as the color of the bricks, the need for windows on the building or a solution to traffic stacking on Harrison Avenue. The lot on which the restaurant is proposed is between Taco Bell and Harrison Avenue.

“You’re alleging some type of prejudice or bias when all they’ve only talked about are site plan issues,” Mr. Duffy said.

Pressed by Mr. Duffy as to whether he was saying the board was prejudiced because of his race, Mr. Chockalingam replied, “I don’t want to.”

Mr. Chockalingam said he felt the board’s vote was pre-determined.

The vote on the application, formally issued by Guddha LLC, was delayed or deadlocked for several months because the board failed to have all five members present for the past four meetings. The outcome was not unexpected, since all of the board members had previously voted, at least once, the same way they voted Thursday at a prior meeting, but those votes never led to a decision because the board lacked five members and never got a three-vote majority one way or the other.

A two-story restaurant is being proposed for a sliver of land between the Route 58 Taco Bell and Harrison Avenue. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

A two-story restaurant is being proposed for a sliver of land between the Route 58 Taco Bell and Harrison Avenue. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

Mr. Chockalingam, who acquired the lot from the county in a tax default, said the county Department of Public Works did not oppose the project and only one person opposed the project at the public hearing, and that was Richard Israel, who owns the adjacent property that contained a Taco Bell and an office building.

Town planner Rick Hanley said Mr. Chockalingam’s application failed to meet several parking guidelines which the board has the discretion to waive, but has not done so.

And Planning Board member Lyle Wells said his vote was based on the fact that the lot was too small and was teardrop-shaped.

“I think you’re asking for an over-intensification of the lot,” Mr. Wells said.

Mr. Densieski said Mr. Chockalingam spoke with him about the application several times.

“I think I treated you with utmost respect. I don’t think I biased you in any way,” Mr. Densieski said.

Mr. Carey defended his vote, saying the lot is very small and oddly shaped.

“You’re trying to make a building fit on that piece of property that in my opinion, is going to give the appearance of being out of character for this area,” he said. He also cited the fact that the application doesn’t meet all of the parking guidelines.

Officially, Thursday’s vote constitutes a “no action,” rather than a denial, since it failed to garner three votes on a resolution to approve the application, according to Mr. Duffy.

In order to officially reject the application, the board will have to take up a separate resolution to reject the project, and then approve that resolution, he said.

The Planning Board will likely do that at its next meeting, but in the interim, the applicant also can make changes to try and meet the concerns of the board.