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12/19/14 1:10pm
12/19/2014 1:10 PM
Sherry Patterson, president of the PBMC board of directors, speaks before the Planning Board Thursday

Sherry Patterson, president of the PBMC board of directors, speaks before the Planning Board Thursday at a hearing on a proposed hospital annex on Route 58

While no one questioned the need for Peconic Bay Medical Center’s proposed hospital annex in the parking lot of Bob’s Discount Furniture on Route 58, the location drew some concerns at a public hearing before the Riverhead Town Planning Board Thursday night.

The plans call for construction of a 3,500 square foot building in the southeast corner of the Gateway Plaza, which is the name of the shopping center with Walmart and Bob’s Discount Furniture. PBMC also indicated it plans a possible future expansion of nearly 2,000 square feet in the future.

The goal is to eventually have non-emergency patients come to this site, and not to the emergency room, as currently happens, officials said.

“I don’t think anyone would disagree that hospital emergency rooms are being used as walk-in clinics by people that don’t have insurance,” said Kimberly Judd, the attorney for PBMC. The proposed annex would free up the emergency room for emergencies, she said.

“Our emergency room is at capacity and if you go there, particularly on the weekends, or in the evenings when any of the typical urgent care centers are closed, you can’t get in,” said PBMC board president Sherry Patterson.

“The beds are in the halls, parking is at a maximum; there’s just nowhere else to go. If you want your community hospital to continue to serve you the best way they can, this is something that we really truly need. It’s something the community really truly needs.”

Ron McManus, PBMC’s senior vice president, said the ER wait time can run as long as 6 to 9 hours because of the large volume of visitors — about 38,000 visits per year.

He said about 38 percent of the patients who go to emergency department can be seen at a lower level of care, which is what is being proposed by the annex.

Planning Board member Stan Carey said no one doubts the need for the facility, but he questioned the location.

“On my way here today at about 2 p.m., it took about 17 minutes to get past that location,” Mr. Carey said. “Traffic was backed up without an emergency facility there.”

If an ambulance were trying to take an emergency patient to the hospital’s main campus, he asked, “how would they get out of there?  The cars were blocked up in the intersection. You couldn’t move. They were actually blocking the green light.”

Mr. McManus said that while there will be an ambulance on site at the annex, the frequency of times when an ambulance will need to transport a patient from the annex to the main campus is expected to be rare.

Patients who go to the emergency room with non-emergency situations will be seen there, but PBMC expects that eventually, people will learn to go to the annex with non-emergency cases.

Planning Board member Lyle Wells and resident Richard Luzzi also questioned the location.

“We have Kroemer Avenue that’s starting to grow and yet we have a dysfunctional light system,” Mr. Wells said.

“I don’t think that spot can support another building,” Mr. Luzzi said, adding that the number of cars going to that shopping center has been increasing.

“The design of that whole shopping center needs a lot of work,” he said.

Residents Ken LeBohner and Howard Young both voiced support for PBMC.

“It’s a wonderful care facility and I would trust them with my life, and have,” Mr. Young said.

As for the location, Ms. Patterson said hospital officials looked at every vacant building and property in town and chose this one because of its location near the Long Island Expressway.

“One of the things we didn’t want to do is locate it deep into the heart of Route 58, where it would be drawing traffic from the LIE into town,” she said.

In addition, anything east of Northville Turnpike can’t be considered because it would not be within the town sewer district, and hospital buildings, by law, are required to have separate heating, ventilation and air condition systems from other buildings, she said.

The hospital’s service area is about 400 square miles and ranges from east of the William Floyd Parkway, the entire North Fork, and the South Fork from Hampton Bays west, Mr. McManus said.

Ms. Judd said that if another retail store were proposed in this location, the traffic generation would be greater. Traffic counts show that the peak hours for retail is in the late afternoon and at night, whereas the peak for PBMC’s new Manorville campus — similar to what is proposed on Route 58 — is in the morning, she said.

The Planning Board closed the public hearing but did not rule on the application.

11/20/14 5:34pm
11/20/2014 5:34 PM
Peconic Bay Medical Center is seeking to build a 3,500 sf medical site in this corner of Gateway Plaza, where Bob's Discount Furniture is located.

Peconic Bay Medical Center is seeking to build a 3,500 sf medical site in this corner of Gateway Plaza, where Bob’s Discount Furniture is located. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

PBMC Health is proposing a new medical building in a portion of the parking lot of the Wal-Mart and Bob’s Discount Furniture store on Route 58.

(more…)

02/22/14 2:00pm
02/22/2014 2:00 PM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO  |  Neighbors have been complaining about noise and ground shaking near Gershow Recycling on Hubbard Avenue.

Neighbors have complained about noise and ground shaking near Gershow Recycling on Hubbard Avenue. (Barbaraellen Koch file photo)

Neighbors concerned about noise from Gershow Recycling’s Hubbard Avenue facility will get the chance to make some noise of their own April 3.  (more…)

02/21/14 12:00pm
02/21/2014 12:00 PM

A proposed off-site parking lot on Swezey Avenue for Farm Country Kitchen will first require a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals. (Barbaraellen Koch photo)

Farm Country Kitchen’s proposed site plan with off-site parking will not be approved by the Riverhead Town Planning Board unless it first gets a variance from the town Zoning Board of Appeals, board members said at Thursday’s Planning Board meeting.  (more…)

10/17/13 2:09pm
10/17/2013 2:09 PM

GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | A customer eats a burger at the Five Guys location in Huntington. For now, the closest Five Guys to Riverhead is in Port Jefferson Station.

Sorry, burger lovers: Five Guys Burgers and Fries has reportedly backed out of plans to open a franchise on Route 58 in Riverhead.

Riverhead Town planning and building administrator Jeff Muphree said Oct. 16 that the popular fast-food joint “changed their mind” about opening a store in Riverhead just one day after the planning board approved an amended site plan for them in August.

“They didn’t give a reason,” Mr. Murphree said of the change.

The Five Guys was originally set to be located near the front of the Saber Riverhead shopping center, which is currently being constructed on Route 58, just east of Riverhead Raceway. It was to join Starbucks, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Buffalo Wild Wings, Christmas Tree Shops and Five Below, a representative of the developer said in August.

Mr. Murphree said The Vitamin Shoppe is expected to fill the space Five Guys was originally set to occupy.

Multiple attempts to reach Rich Decola, a representative for Saber Riverhead, were unsuccessful, and a Five Guys company spokesperson did not return repeated phone calls. Charles Cuddy, the Riverhead attorney representing Five Guys, could also not be reached.

Currently, the nearest Five Guys location is in Port Jefferson Station. The chain has doubled its number of stores to more than 1,000 open in the U.S. and Canada, according to a 2012 article published on Forbes.com. And it has more than 1,500 additional locations in the pipeline, making it the fastest growing burger chain in the U.S., according to the Forbes article.

ryoung@timesreview.com

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

10/03/13 8:37pm
10/03/2013 8:37 PM
TIM GANNON PHOTO | Pat Tuccio hopes to convert this vacant building on West Main Street in Riverhead into a restaurant called Simple Table.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Property manager Tom Mielnicki of Riverhead hopes to convert this vacant building on West Main Street in Riverhead into a restaurant called Simple Table.

A new restaurant is in the works for West Main Street in Riverhead and the hope is that it opens in May.

The Riverhead Planning Board held a public hearing Thursday night on plans for Simple Table, a proposed 40-seat eatery that Riverhead property manager Tom Mielnicki hopes to create in a vacant building at 305 West Main Street that last housed an auto shop about eight years ago.

“It’s about trying to do something positive with that part of town,” Mr. Mielnicki said of his plans.

Mr. Mielnicki, who is also vice president of the Polish Town Civic Association, said he will serve as executive chef. His daughter, a culinary student, will also work at the eatery, which he said will offer comfort food — served family-style.

Mr. Mielnicki said he also plans to build an outdoor patio with outdoor seating.

In an interview after the Planning Board meeting, Mr. Mielnicki said he purchased the property from Pat Tuccio for $243,000 in June. The property, which is a third of an acre, includes three buildings, including the space for the proposed restaurant. One of the smaller structures on the property is currently used as an office, Mr. Mielnicki said.

Mr. Mielnicki said he plans to build a small addition to combine two buildings that are just eight inches apart from each other, giving the restaurant a total square footage of roughly 2,300 square feet, with the a third building remaining free standing.

Sixteen gravel parking spaces will also be added, he said.

Lisa Cuomo, Mr. Mielnicki’s business partner, said Simple Table will offer reasonably-priced meals, something she said is “kind of lacking right now in downtown Riverhead, from a family’s standpoint.”

“We’re hoping we get the approval to go forward with this because it’s something that could be beneficial and encourage foot traffic,” she said.

The property is located west of the existing Citibank building.

ryoung@timesreview.com

09/14/13 2:30pm
09/14/2013 2:30 PM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Foxwood Village co-owner Peter Mastropolo at last week’s Planning Board meeting.

The approved drawings for The Shops at Riverhead shopping center under construction on Route 58 are incorrect, and would put the center’s parking lot six feet above the top of a fence that now runs along the property’s border with the Foxwood Village retirement community.

So said Peter Mastropolo, president of the corporation that owns Foxwood Village, at last Thursday’s Riverhead Planning Board meeting in Town Hall.

Foxwood residents have been up in arms ever since the developers of The Shops at Riverhead, which will feature a Costco as its anchor tenant, cleared the entire 41-acre site right up to the Foxwood property line earlier this year — even though the developers don’t have current plans to build on the entire property.

The Shops at Riverhead, owned by Manhattan-based Heritage-Riverhead Retail Developers, LLC, received Planning Board approval last year to clear the entire site so they wouldn’t need to import or export sand to grade the land. The approval requires the developers to create a 30-foot vegetative buffer and a four-foot-tall berm along the Foxwood property line to replace the trees that were cleared, but that buffer has yet to be constructed.

Foxwood residents have also complained about the quality, or lack thereof, of the six-foot-high wooden fence erected along the property line by the developers and requested last Thursday that it be replaced with a sound wall.

“When it came time to clear the land and the trees were removed, it became very obvious that the impact on Foxwood Village was going to be more severe and more than what was stated in the drawings that were presented to the Planning Board,” Mr. Mastropolo said at last week’s meeting.

He said that when he and other Foxwood residents were protesting a recent Zoning Board of Appeals applications filed by the developer seeking a variance on town lighting laws, “we did some actual surveying and found that the drawings showing the elevations were incorrect.”

Foxwood Village has since hired its own surveyors to review the developer’s plans, he said.

“When they installed the fence, we did a line of sight [analysis] and elevation readings and the fence came out to be actually six feet below the top of the parking lot,” Mr. Mastropolo said. “So when a berm is installed in there, the berm is going to be below the elevation of the parking lot.”

He suggested the Planning Board re-examine the approved plans for The Shops at Riverhead to see if the elevations are correct.

“There’s too much disparity between what they say we have and what the prints show,” Mr. Mastropolo said.

Planning Board members said they would take a look at the information provided by Mr. Mastropolo, but made no promises about reopening the developers’ application.

“I haven’t been supplied with anything by Peter [Mastropolo], so it’s hard for me to comment on it,” Peter Danowski, an attorney for The Shops at Riverhead, later said. Mr. Danowski was not present at last Thursday’s Planning Board meeting, as the project was not on the agenda but was brought up by residents during the meeting’s public comment segment.

“We’re pretty comfortable that what we put on the approved site plan is what will get built and [once it’s built] will show the elevations approved by the Planning Board,” Mr. Danowski said. “I find it hard to believe the parking lot is going to be above the fence. We’ve always said that when we built this thing, it will be consistent with the plans that were approved.”

Mr. Danowski said plans for the 30-foot-wide buffer include eight- to 10-foot arborvitae and other trees, some of which will be planted atop a four-foot-high berm along the Foxwood property line.

He added that, should someone in the Foxwood community stand against and look over the fence, “they would never see anything, because we have a slope from the fence sloping downward with arborvitae and other landscaping that was approved in the buffer area,” Mr. Danowski said, “You couldn’t see beyond the arborvitae.”

Mary Lee Feldman, current president of the Foxwood Village Homeowners Association, asked the Planning Board to require the developer to replace the wooden fence that is there now with a sound wall, something Foxwood homeowners had also demanded at previous board meetings.

The current fence, she said, is not high enough or strong enough to protect the community from pollutants and noise.

And Diane Barba, who lives in the neighboring Millbrook community, just east of The Shops at Riverhead, mentioned that residents there are getting only a chain-link fence. However, existing trees on the Milbrook land already serve as a natural buffer to the cleared shopping center property.

“The noise is unbelievable” since the clearing took place, Ms. Barba said. “I feel like I’m back in the Bronx.”

Mr. Danowski said in an interview that he doesn’t foresee the developer reopening the application.

“We’re going to build the approved plan,” he said.

tgannon@timesreview.com