05/29/15 6:05am
05/29/2015 6:05 AM

The historic Jedediah Hawkins Inn got another temporary reprieve from the Riverhead Town Zoning Board Thursday night to allow it to hold outdoor catered events at the Jamesport restaurant, but it came with a number of conditions aimed at addressing the issue long term.

Because the town code only allows indoor catering – and not outdoor catering – as a permitted “accessory use” to restaurants, the Inn has had to seek a variance from the ZBA annually for the past eight years in order to hold outdoor events. Those variances have been granted, but with conditions.

Neighbors have complained about noise from those outdoor events at prior ZBA hearings.

At one point several years ago, the Town Board discussed changing the zoning to address these issues, but it never did.

On Thursday, the ZBA voted 4-1 in favor of the application, with board member Frank Seabrook casting the lone dissenting vote.

“It seemed to me that the negative impacts of noise from more outdoor events should not be a burden placed on this quiet residential community,” he said after the vote. “In spite of the beautiful restoration work done to that property, and the benefit of that restoration to the community, I could not find a reason to support this appeal. In this community, it is my opinion, that events should be held indoors.”

Pam Hunt, a representative for the Inn, told the ZBA at earlier hearings that the catering hall would have difficulty staying in business without the outdoor events.

Ms. Hunt also presented the ZBA with an online petition signed by more than 900 people in support of the Inn.

The approval granted Thursday allows the Inn to hold outdoor catered events until Nov. 30, 2016, but states: “The applicant is to retain counsel and make a formal written application to the Town of Riverhead Town Board on or before December 1, 2015 requesting a change of zone and or modification of the existing zone to permit catering outside of the principal structure.”

Among other conditions:

• Catering for outdoor events will only be permitted within a completely enclosed tent.

• The Inn will be limited to three outdoor events per month, and no more than one per day, and the events will not be permitted on weekday nights when school in session.

• Events cannot start earlier than noon or end later than 9:30 p.m., and there will be a limit of 125 guests per event.

•Sound levels at outdoor events must be in compliance with the town noise ordinance.

• The Inn will be required to keep a catering manager on site for the duration of outdoor events and that his or her name and cell phone number be conspicuously posted on the Inn’s website for the purpose of responding to noise complaints.

“All of us at Jedediah Hawkins Inn are grateful for the overwhelming show of support from our friends and neighbors, and to the ZBA members who voted to let us continue to serve them,” Ms. Hunt said after the vote. “We are hopeful that by continuing to do business in a responsible manner, we will reassure the few who opposed us.”

tgannon@timesreview.com 

06/24/14 9:06am
06/24/2014 9:06 AM

east end helicopter noise long islandA mandate for helicopters to stay off Long Island’s north shore that was set to expire in August has been renewed by the federal government — though a loophole will still permit aircraft heading to the Hamptons to fly over the North Fork, and local representatives are still working to close it and force pilots to detour around Orient Point.

The goal of the renewed route, implemented by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2012, has been to reduce noise in residential areas that helicopters fly over on their ways to other locales on Long Island — namely, the Hamptons. The only way pilots can deviate from the route is for safety reasons, weather conditions, or if transitioning to or from a destination or point of landing.

But Southold Supervisor Scott Russell has said the last excuse to deviate from the plan hasn’t brought the expected results to Southold he was hoping for. And after U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Tim Bishop issued a joint statement last week announcing that the current route was extended — and not expanded to require flights to head around Orient Point — Mr. Russell called the oversight of Southold residents “deplorable.”

“Quite candidly, our federally-elected representatives just sold us out for the interests of western Long Island,” he said. “This is a disaster for Southold.”

Mr. Schumer and Mr. Bishop said last week that the current route — which towns to the west of Southold have embraced — has been extended for another two years, and the two are working to make it permanent. The announcement came weeks after the two stated that they were attempting to get an extension on the current route requirements, while also pushing for an expansion to require flights to go around Orient Point.

The route requires every helicopter operating along Long Island between Visual Point Lloyd Harbor (VPLYD), located 20 miles north of LaGuardia Airport, and Orient Point to fly one mile off the north shore.

If pilots do not follow the route, they may face fines or have their pilots’ license revoked.

“Luckily for Long Island residents, the beginning of August will not also mean the return of onerous helicopter noise that once interrupted dinners, disrupted people enjoying their backyards and had an effect on quality of life and on property values,” Mr. Schumer said in a release.

Mr. Russell said on Tuesday that last week’s announcement was indeed good news for those on the western part of Long Island, and shrugged off any suggestion that it might have anything to do with the political make-up of Southold’s Town Board — which has no elected Democrats on it.

“This isn’t a partisan issue. This is an East versus West issue,” he said. “The lesser populated East End simply has less clout at the voting booth.”

While expressing satisfaction for the current route’s extension, both Mr. Schumer and Mr. Bishop stated that they hope to see further results and relief for Southold residents.

“It is my sincere hope that FAA will continue to review ways to minimize the reach of noise pollution,” he stated.

Mr. Russell said he would be reaching out to Mr. Bishop’s office this week to try to remedy the issue for Southold residents.