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09/02/14 8:00am
09/02/2014 8:00 AM
This sod farm on the east side of Edwards Avenue, just north of the railroad, may host a 38-acre solar energy farm. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

This sod farm on the east side of Edwards Avenue, just north of the railroad, may host a 38-acre solar energy farm. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

The Riverhead Town Planning Board approved a preliminary site plan at its meeting last Thursday proposing a solar farm with roughly 30,000 panels on an area of Calverton farmland. (more…)

08/30/14 4:30pm
08/30/2014 4:30 PM
A 46-lot subdivision is proposed on this farmland north of Sound Avenue in Riverhead. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

A 46-lot subdivision is proposed on this farmland north of Sound Avenue in Riverhead. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

After neighbors came out in early August to oppose the plan, the Riverhead Town Planning Board closed a public hearing last Thursday on a subdivision plan for land near the intersection of Sound and Roanoke Avenues after developers increased the size of the lots, as the board had requested. (more…)

08/14/14 8:00am
08/14/2014 8:00 AM
A 46-lot subdivision is proposed on this farmland north of Sound Avenue in Riverhead. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

A 46-lot subdivision is proposed on this farmland north of Sound Avenue in Riverhead. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

A plan to convert a 27-acre Sound Avenue farm into a 46-home subdivision was met with resistance last week from neighbors who said the parcel should be preserved as farmland.  (more…)

08/09/14 1:00pm
08/09/2014 1:00 PM
Neighbors have been complaining about noise and ground shaking near Gershow Recycling on Hubbard Avenue. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

Neighbors have been complaining about noise and ground shaking near Gershow Recycling on Hubbard Avenue. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

In June, a state Supreme Court judge adjourned Riverhead Town’s lawsuit against Gershow Recycling until the town Planning Board makes a decision about whether Gershow — a thorn in the side of neighbors who have been complaining about excessive noise for over a year— is a different use from its previous operator on the Hubbard Avenue property.

But it now looks like the town has made that decision without the Planning Board. (more…)

07/19/14 12:00pm
07/19/2014 12:00 PM
Riverhead, Taco Bell, Nathan's Famous, Route 58

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

Riverhead’s smallest proposed restaurant keeps getting smaller and smaller.

Though reducing the size, the number of seats, and the number of parking lots the restaurant can hold hasn’t been enough to get approval from the Riverhead Planning Board.

At least, yet. (more…)

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.

tgannon@timesreview.com

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

Seven Republicans, two Conservatives, and a Blank walk into Riverhead Town Hall …

That might sound like the beginning of a bad joke to some, but after the most recent Planning Board appointment, it’s the actual political makeup of Riverhead Town’s planning and zoning boards.

And that’s no joke. (more…)

02/24/14 12:58pm
02/24/2014 12:58 PM
Riverhead, Taco Bell, Nathan's Famous, Route 58

TIM GANNON PHOTO | A two-story restaurant is being proposed for a sliver of land between the Route 58 Taco Bell and Harrison Avenue.

The developer planning to build a 24-seat, 3,200-square foot restaurant on three-tenths of an acre between the Route 58 Taco Bell and Harrison Avenue will have to wait again before the Riverhead Planning Board makes a decision on application.

The Planning Board on Thursday postponed its vote to a future meeting after the board ended in a 2-2 tie, with board member Lyle Wells absent.

At its previous meeting, they postponed the vote for two weeks because newly-appointed member Stan Carey, in his first meeting, wanted to get more information before voting.

And two weeks before that, the vote was postponed the vote because board member Ed Densieski was absent, and the vote ended up tied 2-2.

Mr. Densieski and Mr. Carey both voted against the application on Thursday, while Planning Board chairman Richard O’Dea and vice-chair Joe Baier voted for it.

Mr. Wells, who was absent last Thursday, voted against the application a month ago.

The applicant, Guddha LLC, headed by Chuck Chockalingam of Westhampton Beach, acquired the property in tax default from Suffolk County, and has been trying to develop it with a restaurant for more than eight years.

The property is zoned Business Center, which requires at least a half-acre to build, but Mr. Chockalingam claims that since it’s a single and separate lot that was created in 1950, prior to the advent of zoning, he is permitted to build on it.

Mr. Densieski said he strongly believes in people’s property rights, but added, “Putting a restaurant there is the epitome of poor planning.”

Mr. Carey said he reviewed the site plan and sat in the Walgreens parking for 20 minutes observing traffic at the site, which he said was stacking up on a Saturday morning where the proposed entrance to the restaurant would be.

“I really couldn’t get past how that building was going to fit on that property,” Mr. Carey said in voting against the proposed the restaurant.

tgannon@timesreview.com