03/09/15 5:00am
03/09/2015 5:00 AM
Congressman Lee Zeldin speaks to reporters and concerned members of the public at a press conference on helicopter noise at Southold Town Hall Sunday. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

Congressman Lee Zeldin speaks to reporters and concerned members of the public at a press conference on helicopter noise at Southold Town Hall Sunday. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

Congressman Lee Zeldin asked the Federal Aviation Administration to do its part in reducing helicopter noise on the East End before the busy summer season in a letter he sent last week.  (more…)

02/25/15 10:00am
02/25/2015 10:00 AM
Rob Gabrielsen and his wife Amanda along with Ayden and Robert, far right, skating on the family rink in Jamesport. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Rob Gabrielsen and his wife Amanda along with Ayden and Robert, far right, skating on the family rink in Jamesport. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

If you build it, they will skate.

The Gabrielsen family of Jamesport has a love of winter sports. Some Scandanavian blood runs in the family, so that may have something to do with it. But the Gabrielsens’ enthusiasm for skating goes beyond that of most people. After all, how many families can say they have an ice skating rink in their backyard? (more…)

01/13/15 5:00pm
01/13/2015 5:00 PM
Farmer Lyle Wells was ousted from the Planning Board last week. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

Farmer Lyle Wells was ousted from the Planning Board last week. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

After longtime Planning Board member Lyle Wells expressed surprise and disappointment after being replaced at the beginning of the year, one Town Board member who voted to remove him said Mr. Wells had acted unethically by voting on applications he was also in a position to profit from — a charge Mr. Wells emphatically denies.  (more…)

03/25/14 6:00am
03/25/2014 6:00 AM

EPCAL_sign

Wading River Civic Association will hold a meeting Thursday, March 27, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at Wading River Congregational Church auditorium.

The guest speaker will be Riverhead Town Councilman George Gabrielsen, who will discuss a proposal for a 90-acre energy park at EPCAL. The meeting is open to the public.

03/05/14 10:00am
03/05/2014 10:00 AM
NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | The state Armory building on Route 58.

The state Armory building on Route 58. (Credit: file photo)

Renovating the former Armory building on Route 58 into a police headquarters and justice court will cost an estimated $11.3 million, according to an engineering report commissioned by Riverhead Town.  (more…)

12/16/13 10:30am
12/16/2013 10:30 AM
JIM COLLIGAN FILE PHOTO

JIM COLLIGAN FILE PHOTO

A lottery for Riverhead Town residents and property owners to hunt on town-owned land in Calverton is scheduled for tonight, Monday, in Town Hall.

The annual hunt during the special firearms season, for shotguns and muzzleloaders, runs from Jan. 6 through Jan. 31, on weekdays.

Riverhead officials started opening up lands at Enterprise Park at Calverton a few years ago to thin the herd, though this season, three-day slots that hunters had been given last year will be reduced to two-day openings.

The lottery will take place at 7 p.m. in Town Hall at 210 Howell Avenue. Applicants must be in attendance to participate, and proper ID and hunting license must be presented at the time of the lottery.

Interested hunters can contact Councilman George Gabrielsen at 727-3200, Ext. 223, for more information.

12/12/13 5:42pm
12/12/2013 5:42 PM


CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | The Glass Greenhouse opened its newly built farmers’ market without site plan approval from the Town, Supervisor Sean Walter said.

Riverhead Town officials are considering taking legal action against the owners of the Glass Greenhouse for illegally operating its newly built Farm Market, a 5,000-square foot, two-story building that features a full kitchen, office space, high ceilings with exposed beams, and an elevator.

A resolution discussed at Thursday’s town board work session, expected to be voted on next Tuesday, states that members have determined the property — located at 1350 Main Road in Jamesport — is in violation of various sections of the town and state code.

The Farm Market, which opened in October and held a grand opening two weeks ago, is currently operating with out a valid certificate of occupancy and outside of the town’s regulations for an agriculture operation, according to Supervisor Sean Walter.

“As much as some people want to believe it meets the town’s zoning, it doesn’t,” Mr. Walter said. “It doesn’t have site plan approval now and I don’t suspect it will get it, since it is not up to code.”

The Glass Greenhouse, which is owned and operated by Walter and Edith Gabrielsen, previously only sold plants and flowers. Three years ago they decided to expand to include a farmers market to sell a variety of fresh and prepackaged foods, manager Amanda Putnam told the Riverhead News-Review in October.

However, much of the products are shipped in from Vermont, Massachusetts and upstate New York, Ms. Putnam said. Moreover, less than 40 percent of the products are made using ingredients grown on site — a direct violation of town code, Mr. Walter said.

The decision to seek legal action against the Gabrielsens wasn’t done with haste, the supervisor said. Walter Gabrielsen’s brother, Councilman George Gabrielsen, said he has recused himself from the matter.

While the site plan has yet to be approved by the town or planning boards, the market was granted a temporary two-month-long certificate of occupancy on Oct. 4, Mr. Walter said.

Without site plan approval from the town, the market opened its doors after receiving a food-processing license from the state Agriculture & Markets Committee on Oct. 11.

Since, Mr. Walter said he has been attempting to contact both the Agriculture & Markets Committee and Farm Bureau president Joe Gergela to determine the town’s next course of action.

When the town’s temporary certificate of occupancy expired on Dec. 4, Mr. Walter said the town still didn’t have a clear plan on how to address the violations.

“It is really not agricultural production,” Councilman James Wooten said in a phone interview Thursday. “When you walk in there, you open your eyes and it’s like a King Kullen. That doesn’t quite make sense to me.”

This is not the first time the town has taken legal action against a business believed to be operating outside town code.

Similarly, in 2010, Riverhead Town took owners of the former A Taste of Country in Northville to court, claiming that its certificate of occupancy is for a farm stand, and that serving hot and cold food — which the business was doing at the time — was not permitted on the site.

Following a two-year court battle, a state Supreme Court judge ruled in favor of the town, according to an October 2012 Riverhead News-Review article.

To bring their operation into compliance, the owners are hoping to expand their business for a second time within the next six months, Mr. Wooten said Thursday. Discussions with the owners revealed the plan to create about 2,800 additional square feet in order to accommodate and sell more products being processed on site, Mr. Wooten said.

“For the most part we want to work with them,” Mr. Wooten said.  “We want to encourage agritourism, but it has to comply with our town code.”

Walter Gabrielsen declined to comment on the resolution.

“I can’t get involved with that,” he said Thursday.

The Town Board is expected to decide if it will take legal action during its next regular session on Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m.

11/21/13 2:16pm
11/21/2013 2:16 PM
An artist’s rendering of the main atrium at the Family Community Life Center’s recreational and other facilities.

An artist’s rendering of the main atrium at the Family Community Life Center’s recreational and other facilities.

The proposed “Community Benefit” overlay zone needed for First Baptist Church’s Family Community Life Center will soon be revised since it doesn’t have the support of a majority of Riverhead Town Board members in its current form.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio and Councilmen George Gabrielsen and John Dunleavy said at Thursday’s Town Board work session that they could not support the proposed zoning as currently written.

Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilman Jim Wooten did support it at Thursday’s work session, where the proposed overlay zone was discussed with representatives of the church, which has proposed building 132 affordable apartment units intended as “work force housing” for the area.

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Mr. Gabrielsen opposed the requirement in the zoning that a project have 800 feet of road frontage on a state or county road in order to qualify for the overlay zone.

First Baptist’s Northville Turnpike property has 807 feet of frontage on a county road.

“That just seems like it was site specific,” Mr. Gabrielsen said.

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Mr. Walter said the proposal will need to be revised to meet Mr. Gabrielsen’s concerns so that a new public hearing can be held in early January.

Another change Mr. Gabrielsen proposed is a requirement for a 50-foot vegetative buffer between the project and neighboring homes, instead of the 25 feet in the proposed code.

“When you have something this dense and this high, I think neighbors have the right to a 50-foot buffer,” he said.

Ms. Giglio said the proposed 10 units per acre of residential housing is too dense, and she also feels the project should not be exempt from taxes, and should pay either taxes or payments in lieu of taxes.

Mr. Dunleavy agreed with the concerns of his fellow council members.

Mr. Walter, who has consistently supported the project, said he thinks Mr. Gabrielsen’s requests “are reasonable and they are doable,” but the tax issues raised by Ms. Giglio and Mr. Dunleavy probably cannot be addressed.

Ms. Giglio also raised the question of what other properties in town would meet the criteria of the proposed zone.

A map produced by town planning and building administrator Jeff Murphree shows about five other properties.

“A couple are owned by the county, and one has an approved site plan on it, so the way I’m looking at this is that there is only one other piece of property in the town that could possibly benefit from this zoning,” Ms. Giglio said.

The proposed overlay zone, which will now be rewritten, would have allowed a community center and workforce housing on land that meets certain criteria, including having 10 or more acres of land with at least 800 feet of frontage on a county or state highway, as well as public water and sewer connections.

The proposed Family Community Life Center would include an Olympic-size indoor swimming pool, a 25-seat theater and media center and 24-hour adult and child day care services. The proposal also includes an indoor walking track, gymnasium, fitness center and classroom space.

It would be located on the 12-acre church property on Northville Turnpike. The Rev. Charles Coverdale has said the income from the apartments is needed to subsidize the rest of the project, which would be open to the community.

The allowed number of housing units would be one per acre, but the proposed zone would allow additional units with the purchase or either transferred development rights from farms, or open space development credits from Suffolk County, which are dedicated for use in affordable housing and would be made available to such projects at no charge.

The church is hoping for the latter and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has publicly pledged support for the project.

The Family Community Life Center project, which has been in the works for more than 20 years, received overwhelming support from speakers at a Nov. 6 public hearing.

Reached for comment after the meeting, Mr. Coverdale said, “We have to go through the process. We want things to be right.”

tgannon@timesreview.com