01/17/14 3:00pm
01/17/2014 3:00 PM
COURTESY PHOTOS | Stairs leading up to Camp DeWolfe before and after Hurricane Sandy.

COURTESY PHOTOS | Stairs leading up to Camp DeWolfe before and after Hurricane Sandy.

Town Planning Board members plan on holding a public hearing on what one town planner called “the largest erosion control project this board has ever looked at,” a plan to bring over 5,000 cubic yards of material to a camp on the Long Island Sound in Wading River.

Following serious storm damage over the past couple of years, Camp DeWolfe in Wading River is proposing to build a 683-foot revetment to stabilize the camp’s Long Island Sound bluff, which had been badly damaged during hurricane Sandy.

To do so, the Christian camp, owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, will need to bring 5,500 cubic yards of material to the site, making 300 trips back and forth along the beach over a 10 day period, according to Joe Hall, an environmental planner for Riverhead Town.

“This is without question, by far the largest erosion control project this board has ever looked at, so it rises to a level of concern unexperienced by this board and myself,” Mr. Hall said at a Planning Board work session to discuss the project on Thursday.

The camp has said it lost more than 40 feet of the bluff it sits on horizontally and 60 feet of bluff vertically in some places, and that this destabilized the plant life higher up on the bluff, which continues to erode. Program Director Emma Tees said on Friday the project is 20 years overdue.

The town is concerned about the effect the heavy trucks carrying that material will have on the roads leading to the beach, on the boat ramp at the town’s Wading River Beach, and on beach access leading to the camp’s bluff, namely because the town and the homeowners just east of the town’s Wading River Beach were recently involved in a lawsuit regarding beach rights. A settlement was reached in which the town agreed to enforce trespassing on those properties landward of the mean high tide mark, which is considered private property.

The lawsuit was filed by several owners of property that front Long Island Sound. They claimed the town was neglecting to enforce rules stating that the portion of the beach landward of the mean high tide mark is private property. The trucks bringing material to the camp site would have to travel past those same homes to get to the camp’s property.

A Nov. 2012 update on the Camp’s website stated: “If you are familiar with Camp DeWolfe, you will know that Benson house, the pool chapel and Lodge 1 were already within 30 feet of the edge of the bluff, a line which grows closer with each rain storm. This past winter a land survey was conducted and determined that within the next five years, camp facilities would be in danger of falling into the Long Island Sound.”

The update said the camp planned to put into place hundreds of five-to-10 ton boulders, anti-erosion control netting, and to follow that by planting native species along the entire toe of the bluff to stabilize it.

Tim Rumph, a landscape architect working on the project for the camp, said they had considered bringing in the rocks by a barge in the Long Island Sound, but ultimately decided on trucking the material.

The camp property has no erosion control protection currently, he said.

Mr. Rumph said he has also recently met with officials from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and toured the site with them.

“They want us to answer a lot more questions (about things) that were shown on the plans we submitted to them,” Mr. Rumph said. “So we’re beginning a dialogue with them.”

Planning Board vice chairman Joe Baier suggested the board hold a public hearing on the proposal. The board will come up with a date at a later meeting.

“My thought on that is, you’re going to be crossing so many property lines, and because of the settlement, that we should have a public hearing so that at least the landowners that would be passed by (the trucks) could have an opportunity to at least know this may be going on,” Mr. Baier said.

“It would certainly provide notice to these people and they would have a chance to air their concerns and grievances,” Mr. Hall responded.

tgannon@timesreview.com

01/09/14 8:30am
01/09/2014 8:30 AM
MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | Riverhead Town Hall on Howell Avenue.

MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | Riverhead Town Hall on Howell Avenue.

So, think you can be a Planning Board member?

The town is looking for someone to fill a vacancy on its Planning Board left by the recent retirement of 15-year member Lou Boschetti, who is plans to move upstate and chose not to seek another term.

According to the notice on the town website, applicants must be 18 years old, a U.S. citizen and a town resident and “should demonstrate a background in one of the following disciplines: architecture, historical preservation, urban planning, environmental planning or landscape design.”

The Planning Board meets on the first and third Thursday of each month and members are required to attend yearly training. The pay is $9,000 per year.

Interested applicants should send resumes and cover letters to the Town of Riverhead Personnel Department, 1295 Pulaski St., Riverhead, NY 11901 or fax them to 727-1768.

Supervisor Sean Walter said he plans to leave the position open until the end of January and will have members of the town personnel committee and others review applications and make a recommendation to the Town Board.

01/07/14 2:05pm
01/07/2014 2:05 PM

liveblog

Despite efforts from a local civic organization to halt it, the Riverhead Town Board voted unanimously on Tuesday to issue a land clearing permit for the Knightland shopping center proposed at the intersection of Sound Avenue and Route 25A in Wading River.

The board had planned to vote on a similar resolution in August, despite a court case filed by the Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition challenging the town Planning Board’s approval of the project. But a last minute court ruling put that vote on hold.

In December, a state appellate court ruled that the RNPC and others who had brought the lawsuit didn’t have legal standing to sue on the matter, and dismissed the case.

With the lawsuit out of the way, the Town Board discussed the clearing permit briefly at last Thursday’s work session and agreed to issue it.

“I note that my client has paid all of the required site plan fees and the substantial building permit fees, and both a clearing permit and a building permit should now issue,” said Peter Danowski, the attorney for Knightland owner Kenney Barra, in a letter to the Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz on Monday. Mr. Barra also owns the adjacent East Wind Caterers.

Knightland’s plan calls for 32,500 square feet of retail space and a 4,900-square-foot restaurant in a complex comprising 24 small buildings.

RNPC said on its web site that the court ruling dismissed their case “without ever considering the merits of the lawsuit brought on behalf of the community.”

Mr. Danowski said at the work session that his client has paid $23,000 in building fees, but that they are not removing or importing any sand or material and will not have to pay the $2 per cubic yard fee the town charges for excavations or importation of material from construction sites.

The meeting starts at 2 p.m. and New-Review reporter Tim Gannon will be live blogging. Click below to follow or comment, and see the full meeting agenda and resolutions packet below that.

January 7, 2014 – Agenda by Timesreview

January 7, 2014 – Packet by Timesreview

01/02/14 10:00am
01/02/2014 10:00 AM

liveblog

The Riverhead Town Board is expected to discuss at its work session today the clearing permit for Knightlands, a proposed shopping center in Wading River that has been involved in litigation.

The board also is scheduled to discuss filling a vacancy on the town Planning Board left by the resignation of longtime member Lou Boschetti. In addition, the board plans to discuss a plan to reduce the number of parking spaces the town requires in some developments, and the Hamlet Center zoning district.

The meeting starts at 10 a.m. and News-Review reporter Tim Gannon will be live blogging. Click below to follow or comment and see the full meeting agenda below that.

January 2, 2014 – Agenda by Timesreview

12/21/13 10:00am
12/21/2013 10:00 AM
TIM GANNON PHOTO | Longtime planning board member Lou Bochetti, who will be stepping from his post at the end of this year.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Longtime planning board member Lou Bochetti, who will be stepping from his post at the end of this year.

Longtime Riverhead Planning Board member Lou Bochetti will be stepping from that post at the end of this year.

Mr. Boschetti, who was appointed during the administration of former Supervisor Vinny Villella, has been on the Planning Board for 15 years.

Prior to that, he was a town Councilman from 1982 to 1989 and he made two unsuccessful runs for town supervisor, one as a Conservative candidate in 1987, and one as a Democrat in 1991, even though he was elected to the Town Board as a Republican.

Mr. Boschetti, who works as a real estate broker as well as a consultant in the manufactured housing field, said at Thursday’s meeting that he’d be leaving the board.

He has property Upstate and is moving his business up there, he said.

“We will really miss you and your insight,” said Planning Board vice chairman Joe Baier at Thursday’s meeting, which will likely be Mr. Boschetti’s last, barring a special meeting before the end of the year.

“Lou was a balanced vote,” Planning Board member Ed Deniseski said. “You were fair and honest with everyone.”

It’s uncertain who the Town Board will choose to replace Mr. Boschetti.

Appointments are generally made at the first Town Board meeting of the year in January.

tgannon@timesreview.com

10/03/13 11:14am
10/03/2013 11:14 AM

 

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

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

A planned change to Riverhead Town’s zoning code that would require buffer zones around commercial developments was praised by civic groups and derided by property owners at a public hearing during Tuesday’s Town Board meeting.

The proposal would require any commercial property with a building of more than 5,000 square feet to keep a 50-foot buffer zone of trees or shrubs between it and the neighboring properties. Any property with a building equal to or less than 5,000 square feet would need a 25-foot buffer.

Current zoning law requires a 10-foot buffer zone around all commercial properties.

The zoning change was proposed after the Town Board faced public outrage over construction work at the Route 58 Costco development that resulted in clear-cutting up to the property lines of two residential communities.

Brian DeLuca, president and CEO of Group for the East End, an environmental organization, said it was “absolutely necessary” for larger commercial projects like Costco to have a buffer zone.

“The protection of the character of the town, this region, is vital to this economy,” he said at the hearing.

Representatives from the Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition and the Wading River Civic Association, also lent their support to the zoning change.

RNPC president Dominique Mendez said the buffer zone will improve residents’ quality of life and suggested the board consider applying the requirement to multi-family apartment developments as well as commercial properties.

But commercial property owners said the zoning would take a substantial bite out of their land, reducing the value of their properties.

Aquebogue property owner Walter Binger says that homeowners who live near commercially zoned areas have “no right” to demand commercial property owners set aside land for buffer zones.

“I have rights,” he said. “Other commercial property owners have rights.”

August Groeber, who owns 2 acres of property, also railed against the proposal.

He said that since he purchased his land years ago, zoning changes have reduced the area he can develop to about a sixth of what he once could, reducing the property’s worth. While builders on larger plots may be able to afford a 50-foot buffer, Mr. Groeber said he would lose even more land under the new zoning regulations.

“You’re stealing my land and you’re giving it to my neighbors,” he said. “You aimed at Costco and you hit me.”

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said the town will look at neighboring towns’ zoning regulations to see how they handle buffer zones before continuing with amending the code.

The public hearing will remain open for written comment until Oct. 11, town officials said.

psquire@timesreview.com

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated how much land Mr. Groeber owns.

09/19/13 6:05pm
09/19/2013 6:05 PM
TIM GANNON PHOTO | The northern part of the Costco property off Route 58 in Riverhead.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | The northern part of the Costco property off Route 58 in Riverhead.

The developers of The Shops at Riverhead shopping center on Route 58 will have one week to get the Riverhead Town Planning Board corrected site elevations for a berm the developers are proposing to build along the northern boundary of their property, abutting the Foxwood Village retirement community.

If the corrected plans are not in by Sept. 26, the town will revoke the building permit for the project, town officials said.

Bill Duffy, the attorney to the Planning Board, said the town’s consulting engineer believes the ground elevations submitted by the developers are incorrect.

“The berm was supposed to be high to block the view’ of the shopping center from neighboring residents, Mr. Duffy said at Thursday’s Planning Board meeting.

Based on the elevations submitted by the application, he said, “That’s not necessarily going to happen.”

The developers were supposed to get the new information to the Planning Board by tomorrow, but the board decided to give them more time.

Planning Board member Ed Densieski suggested a drop-dead deadline “to get the corrected information in, and issue a stop-work order if they don’t.”

“Based on the fact they submitted falsified information,” he said.

Mr. Duffy said the town would have to first revoke the building permit before it could issue a stop-work order.

The board directed Mr. Duffy to send a letter to the developers — Heritage-Riverhead Retail Developers — stating that if the corrected information is not submitted by Sept. 26, the town will revoke the building permit.

Clear-cutting of trees at the Shops at Riverhead, which will contain a Costco Wholesale as its anchor store, has angered residents of the neighboring Foxwood community to the north and Millbrook Community to the east.

They’ve also complained that fencing dividing the properties is inadequate.

Foxwood Village president Peter Mastropolo recently hired a land surveyor, John Ehlers, to review the approved plans for the Shops at Riverhead, and determined the elevations showing the natural topography of the land where a berm is proposed along the northern property line were incorrect.

The town planning department now agrees with that assessment.

Planning director Rick Hanley said the elevations, which show how high above sea leave the land is, before the development began, showed only the easternmost portion of the berm area, which had the highest elevation.

Mr. Hanley said the Planning Board was led to believe that this was the elevation for the entire site when it approved the site plan.

Peter Danowski, the attorney for the applicant, was not at Thursday’s Planning Board meeting, but he discussed the berm issue during an interview on Wednesday in response to comments Supervisor Sean Walter had made about the berm at a Town Board meeting the day before.

“The Ehlers elevation shots at the property line are not terribly inconsistent with what’s on our plans,” Mr. Danowski said on Wednesday.

“In fact, I would say they are consistent.”

Mr. Danowski said Mr. Ehler’s drawings don’t show the landscape plan that the Planning Board approved, which calls for the berm and the planting of evergreen trees along the property line forming a 30-foot buffer.

He said that once that plan is in place, he believes residents will be happy with it.

tgannon@timesreview.com

09/04/13 3:00pm
09/04/2013 3:00 PM
TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO  |  The fence that runs along Foxwood Village and the Shops at Riverhead property lines.

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | The fence that runs along Foxwood Village and the Shops at Riverhead property lines just north of Route 58 in Riverhead.

While Riverhead Councilman John Dunleavy has been able to avoid most of the controversy in the three-way primary for two Republican council nominations this fall, that hasn’t been the case in the past week, where he’s managed to anger some of his Foxwood Village neighbors regarding answers to questions at a recent candidate debate.

John Dunleavy of Riverhead

John Dunleavy

Those neighbors say Mr. Dunleavy was the president of the Foxwood Village Homeowners Association for two years while The Shops at Riverhead application was pending with the town, and that he should have taken a more active role in monitoring the development of the proposed shopping center next to their homes.

The Shops at Riverhead, which will feature a Costco as its anchor store, was first proposed in 2007. The developer recently cleared the trees up to the Foxwood Village property line, angering residents there.

“He was the president [of the HOA] at the time the scoping meeting was held on this development and he knew everything was coming down the pike and never told us,” said Marylee Feldman, the current Foxwood Village HOA president told the News-Review. “He didn’t protect us.”

“She doesn’t know what she’s talking about,” Mr. Dunleavy responded.

Mr. Dunleavy said the HOA at Foxwood Village deals only with providing recreation for the residents of the community there, and the president also may relay concerns some residents have to the retirement community’s owners.

“The homeowners association is only a recreation association,” Mr. Dunleavy said. “It has nothing to do with the running of Foxwood Village.”

Not so, Ms. Feldman said.

“All things representing the homeowners are taken up with that group,” Ms. Feldman said.

Paul Spina, another Foxwood Village resident, said in an interview that current bylaws of the Homeowners Association state that the obligation of the HOA “is to safeguard the interests of the members.”

He added, “Apparently Mr. Dunleavy did not take his obligation too seriously if he only considered himself a recreation committee member.”

Mr. Dunleavy’s wife, Marie, said Mr. Dunleavy was asked by the HOA three years ago to talk to the group about town issues and he has done so.

“When they liked what he was saying, it was fine,” Ms. Dunleavy said. “Now, they don’t like what he’s saying, so it’s not fine.”

She said the couple has lived in Foxwood Village retirement community for 13 years and “until this month, there’s never been a political atmosphere here or a problem here.”

She said the residents of Foxwood Village knew all about the Costco development and the pending land clearing.

At the Sept. 16 “Riverhead at a Crossroads” candidate debate at the Suffolk Theatre, Mr. Dunleavy and fellow incumbent Republican council candidate Jodi Giglio were asked if they understood what they were voting for on April 2 when the Town Board voted to approve a clearing permit for the Shops at Riverhead, which abuts Foxwood Village.

The candidates were also asked if they understood the developer had planned to clear 11 or more acres on which there are currently no plans to build anything.

Mr. Dunleavy and Ms. Giglio are in a three-way race with challenger Anthony Coates for the two Republican council nominations, and most of the campaigning thus far had involved Mr. Coates and Ms. Giglio trading barbs.

“The problem I had was this,” Mr. Dunleavy said at the debate. “I belonged to a recreation committee at Foxwoods and they picked a fellow resident to represent the residents of Foxwood. He didn’t really know what was going on. He didn’t ask me any questions. I didn’t want to force his hand. He went to every planning board meeting.”

Mr. Dunleavy, who didn’t identify the resident by name, said the owners of Foxwood Village should have represented the  community at Planning Board meetings about the Shops at Riverhead.

“The recreation committee didn’t want to talk to me at that time because they had this representative going to every meeting,” Mr. Dunleavy continued. “First they wanted an expressway wall, then they wanted a berm, then they wanted a fence.

“They really didn’t know what they wanted.”

Those comments angered Robert Hall, the Foxwood Village resident who’s been attending meetings concerning the Shops at Riverhead development for the past four years.

Mr. Hall was the person Mr. Dunleavy was referring to, Mr. Hall later wrote in a letter to the News-Review.

“He threw Bob Hall under the bus,” Ms. Feldman said Wednesday.

Mr. Hall wrote in his letter to the editor that he wasn’t picked by a committee, he volunteered.

He also said he did seek to contact Mr. Dunleavy in July 2007 and got no response.

Mr. Spina and Ms. Feldman both said the recreation committee that Mr. Dunleavy referred to is not the homeowners association, and only deals with providing recreation for the community and has nothing to do with monitoring planning board meetings.

tgannon@timesreview.com