The Riverhead Town Board declined to offer a resolution in support of a Baiting Hollow farmer’s application to grow medical marijuana on land on Edwards Avenue.
The issue was defeated by an informal 3-2 margin Tuesday. (more…)
Peconic Bay Medical Center (PBMC) has announced it will offer healthcare services to military veterans at its new facility in Manorville starting Tuesday.
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…)
Riverhead Town’s Anti-Bias Task Force is back — and it’s looking for members. (more…)
Riverhead Town Board members again debated the issue of political caucuses at Tuesday’s board meeting, when two council members thought the board was in agreement on three personnel moves — only to see them fall flat in a 2-2 vote.
Councilman George Gabrielsen was absent from Tuesday’s board meeting, and following the personnel votes, Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilman Jim Wooten said that the change came as a result of a closed door political caucus, something board members argued about earlier this year.
Mr. Walter said he stopped attending the meetings in January.
“I don’t know what transpired between executive session on Thursday and today, unless it was something I wasn’t at,” Mr. Wooten said on Tuesday. “You see, Jim, you and I did not attend (GOP chairman) Mason Haas’ caucus,” Mr. Walter said.
“It was not a caucus,” Ms. Giglio said. “There were only two board members there. And I was always a ‘no’ on this.”
Mr. Walter suggested that “Somebody politically is going to get a job” as a result of the votes.
But Councilman John Dunleavy had a change of heart on Wednesday.
Mr. Dunleavy said on Wednesday that he has since changed his vote, after discussing it after Tuesdays’s meeting, and now plans to vote in favor of the three personnel moves, which he now believes will save the town money.
The Town Board will be holding a special town board meeting on Thursday to “take up time sensitive employee resolutions.”
Ms. Giglio said on Tuesday that she first heard about the personnel moves at Thursday’s work session and wanted more information. The resolutions included a transfer of a highway employee to a janitor position in the senior center, a transfer of a cook in the senior center to a highway position and the hiring of a temporary cook in the senior center.
She said the main reason for the caucus was an unrelated issue: to discuss Mr. Walter’s refusal to sign a contract for a new building department software program that the rest of the board voted to authorize him to sign. Mr. Walter said that he believes this contract required a competitive bid.
Mr. Dunleavy said after Tuesday’s meeting that he voted no because by transferring a cook in the senior center to the highway department, the town would be short one cook.
Give me a moment, I’ll tell you a funny story.
Two weeks ago, Councilwoman Jodi Giglio went on WRIV radio to announce Riverhead can’t actually enforce town code at the Gershow facility because Riverhead doesn’t own a noise meter. You remember Gershow — they were approved by our Town Board to run a benign junk yard on Hubbard Avenue. Now they noisily “shred” cars there. The story gets better.
A few days after the councilwoman’s pronouncement, Supervisor Sean Walter stepped in to say it’s not true, the town does indeed own not one, but two decibel meters; they just happen to be located at police headquarters. Perhaps that’s why the Town Board might not think we have any. (more…)
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.
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.
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.”
Riverhead Town Democratic Committee nominee Angela DeVito beat challenger Ann Cotten-DeGrasse by 501 to 229 votes in the primary race for the Democrats’ supervisor nod Tuesday.
In the at-large Republican race for two Town Council nominations, Jodi Gilgio was the top vote-getter with 912, followed by John Dunleavy with 878 and Anthony Coates with 484, according to the county Board of Elections.
And in the Independence Party primary for Town Council, Ms. Giglio led the three-candidate pack with 68 votes, followed by Democratic nominee Bill Bianchi with 65 and Mr. Dunleaby with 37. That was also an at-large race.
The News-Review had reporters at all the candidates’ camps and reported live from 8:30 p.m. The polls closed at 9 p.m.
Click below for the live reports, including quotes, photos and reactions from the candidates and supporters.