05/01/14 10:26pm
05/01/2014 10:26 PM
CAPTION: Haig Buchakjian, center, the Senior Vice President of Construction with Brixmor Property Group, promised to make things better at the Costco/Shops at Riverhead development at Thursday's Riverhead Planning Board meeting, while some of the neighbors who have been angered by that development look over his shoulder.

Haig Buchakjian of Brixmor Property Group, center, promising to improve current construction plans at the Costco shopping center during Thursday’s Riverhead Planning Board meeting while residents — who’ve been angered by ongoing construction issues at the site — look over his shoulder. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

With angry neighbors literally looking over his shoulder, the senior vice president of construction with Brixmor Property Group told the Riverhead Planning Board Thursday night that things will improve at the controversial Costco/Shops at Riverhead development, which has run into complaints from neighbors and town officials and was put under a stop work order last Friday.


04/25/14 5:15pm
04/25/2014 5:15 PM
The site of construction at Costco in late March. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

The site of construction at Costco in late March. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

The controversial Costco/Shops at Riverhead development on Route 58 has been issued a stop work order, putting the entire project on hold until the developer can show that the work being done is in conformance with its approved site plan, according to Riverhead Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz.  (more…)

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.


12/31/13 12:00pm
12/31/2013 12:00 PM
Suffolk Theater in Riverhead

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | The historic Suffolk Theater in downtown Riverhead reopened earlier this year.

On the fast track at EPCAL

A monumental hurdle was cleared in the effort to finally bring economic development to the Enterprise Park at Calverton. That hurdle came in the form of state legislation, passed in October, designed to fast-track development proposals for 600 subdivided acres of town land at the former Grumman site. Several EPCAL proposals have fallen apart in the past, usually because they found themselves in a jurisdictional purgatory among governments. This legislation should solve the problem. Though nothing was built this year, the work of state and local lawmakers, namely Sean Walter, Ken LaValle and Fred Thiele, should pay dividends later in the form of jobs and tax base.

Little more than a land grab

Riverhead Town had set out to subdivide 800 acres of town-owned property at EPCAL, yet the subdivision map that’s been sketched out shows 600 acres that will be sold. The loss of 200 acres comes because the state Department of Environmental Conservation outlined land that could not be developed at EPCAL due to protected species. While we’re not about ruining sensitive habitats, the last we checked, preserving huge swaths of land usually involves some sort of financial transaction. If the state doesn’t want this acreage developed, it must compensate the town accordingly. The proceeds could help fund necessary sewer plant upgrades and other infrastructure improvements at the site.

ThumbUpBye-bye sex offenders

Six years is an awfully long time for one community to house the county’s entire homeless sex offender population. In fact, it’s six years too long.

But we were happy to report this year that the homeless sex offender trailers in Riverside were finally moved and the sex offenders were placed in shelters across the county.

The trailer system was never a good idea and the county’s handling of the situation was appalling.

The only good that ever came of it was the day the trailers finally left.

ThumbdownA clear-cut disaster at Costco site

The town gave away the store by granting developers of the Route 58 Costco project the OK to clear-cut an entire 41-acre property in 2013, including 11 acres in which there are no immediate plans to build. The measure saved the developers money but short-changed taxpayers $374,100 in fees on imported fill. The reason given by the developers was that they didn’t want to disturb neighbors twice (should they build more later). Somehow this argument held water with the Planning Board, which approved the site plan in 2012, and the Town Board, which granted an excavation permit this year. Neighbors in the Foxwood and Millbrook communities now enjoy views of sand pits and strings of small arborvitae.

ThumbUpThe Suffolk Theater reopens

The history of the Suffolk Theater is too long and fraught with ups and downs to fit into this space but in 2013, the art deco-style theater saw a big “up” as it reopened after years of effort from Bob and Dianne Castaldi.

In the wake of the opening of the theater, which has hosted events from concerts to comics to debates to psychics, a variety of other businesses have opened their doors in the area on Main Street — exactly the hope of many who awaited the theater’s return.

The Castaldis were named People of the Year by the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce for their efforts, with East End Arts executive director Pat Snyder calling the anchor site a “point of pride” for the town.

ThumbdownRotten to the Common Core

New York State has agreed to adopt high-stakes testing and controversial teacher evaluation systems tied to Common Core State Standards in exchange for a one-time installment of $700 million in federal Race to the Top grant money. That’s less than 3 percent of what the state spends in a single year on education, experts say. Hardly seems worth the money to tie ourselves to a system that, at best, may help already college-bound kids attend marginally better colleges but will likely cause at-risk youths, English language learners and students with disabilities to fail in school in even greater numbers. Since the overhaul wasn’t created by legislation, lawmakers can, and do, deflect blame.

11/06/13 9:00am
11/06/2013 9:00 AM
TIM GANNON PHOTO | A fence and vegetative berm bordering Foxwoods Village.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | A fence and vegetative berm bordering Foxwoods Village.

To the relief of some, construction has started on a vegetative berm and buffer abutting homes in Foxwood Village, on the northern end of The Shops at Riverhead, where nearby residents have been infuriated by the clear cutting of 41 acres of trees at the proposed shopping center, saying it increases dust and noise at their properties and creates security concerns.

While the town Planning Board had threatened to pull the permits on the Route 58 project as a result of the original berm plans, they were never revoked after recent changes were made to the board’s satisfaction.

Jeff Murphree, the town planning and building administrator, said the new information submitted by the developer “clarifies” the previous information.

An evergreen buffer and fence also is planned along part of the eastern boundary of the property, near the Millbrook Community, a mobile home park on Mill Road, officials have said.

The berm under construction is about four feet high and has evergreen trees being planted on top of it that are about eight feet high. Additional trees are proposed. There also is a six foot wooden fence along the property line with Foxwood Village; however, residents there have called it inadequate.

Residents have also questioned why the developer needed to cut down all the trees near their homes in the first place, since there is no building planned in that area in the approved site plan.

Peter Danowski, the attorney for the project – which will feature a Costco Warehouse as its anchor tenant – has said the project is a “balanced cut and fill,” whereby no sand would be imported or exported from the site, but would instead be moved around to regrade the land.

He said that once the berm and buffer are constructed, residents will be happy with it.

“In certain parts, it’s good,” said Marylee Feldman, president of the Foxwood Village Homeowners Association, which has been critical of the plans. “For some of the residents, it’s good. It’s fine, because it’s way higher than the fence. Once they put the trees on, it will be very good if they space them correctly.”

However, she said the trees won’t provide an adequate buffer if they’re not spaced correctly.

Robert Hall, a Foxwood Village resident who has monitored Planning Board meetings on the Shops at Riverhead application for the past four years, says he believes the trees that are being planted are too far apart to provide adequate screening, and are too small.

Foxwood Village residents still plan to go back to the Planning Board on Nov. 7 to ask for a better fence.

“I think this one will fall down by itself. It’s very rickety and not constructed properly,” Ms. Feldman said.

Residents have questioned the need to cut all the trees that were there initially, saying the “balanced cut and fill approach” was merely intended to save money for the developer.

“Some questions will never get answered,” Ms. Feldman said. “I just hope it’s okay” in the long run, she said.

Following the negative reaction to the project’s clear cutting, the Riverhead Town Board last week adopted new regulations that would require large commercial projects adjacent to residences to retain 50-foot natural buffers, or to construct a 50-foot vegetative buffer if one doesn’t exist naturally.

Supervisor Sean Walter said that requirement will apply to Shops at Riverhead only if the developer attempts to build more stores in the northern part of the property.

The Shops at Riverhead, which is now owned by Brixmor Property Group of New York, would be required to buy transferred farmland development rights in order to be able to build any more than what is currently proposed.

[email protected]

10/17/13 7:00am
10/17/2013 7:00 AM
TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Excavation at the site of a future Costco on Route 58.

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Excavation in July at the site of a future Costco on Route 58.

To the editor:

There certainly should have been more consideration afforded the adjacent community by the contractor of the Shops at Riverhead. I fully support the protesters for the lack of local workers — both union and non-union.

Jobs should be a primary consideration in approving any major construction.

However, the protesting politicians who are against the coming of Costco, and view it as an issue to hang their hats on, are in for an unpleasant surprise. Everyone I have spoken to has only one major complaint: “What’s taking so long to open? We can’t wait!”

And all reports indicate Costco pays relatively excellent pay and benefits, while also offering a realistic path to advancement. Sounds like a great addition to Riverhead.

Ed Goldstein, Baiting Hollow