03/09/14 7:30am
03/09/2014 7:30 AM
A two-story restaurant is being proposed for a sliver of land between the Route 58 Taco Bell and Harrison Avenue. (Credit: Tim Gannon, file)

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

The Riverhead Town Planning Board once again postponed making a decision on Guddha LLC’s proposal to build a 24-seat, 3,200-square-foot restaurant on a .03 acre sliver of land on Route 58  in between Taco Bell and Harrison Avenue.   (more…)

02/20/14 10:56am
02/20/2014 10:56 AM
The entrance to Farm Country Kitchen in Riverhead. (Barbaraellen Koch)

The entrance to Farm Country Kitchen in Riverhead. (Barbaraellen Koch)

The Riverhead Town Planning Board is scheduled to discuss today Farm Country Kitchen’s plans to have offsite parking.

The Riverhead Town Board took the popular West Main Street eatery to court in 2011, claiming it had a certificate of occupancy only for a take-out deli and had expanded illegally into a full-service restaurant. One of the town’s complaints dealt with the lack of parking at the site, located on the south side of busy West Main Street.

That case is still pending, but one step restaurant owners Tom and Maria Carson took to rectify that issue was the purchase of a .70 acre parcel on the west side of Swezey Avenue, just south of the railroad tracks, to serve as off-site parking. The lot already has a paved parking lot.

Town planning and building administrator Jeff Murphree said the issue is merely on the Planning Board agenda for discussion today at 3 p.m. The applicant will likely need a Zoning Board of Appeals variance too, he said, since the lot they bought is 243 feet from the main building and the Town Code only allows off-site parking within 200 feet of a business.

• The Planning Board may also make a decision on Guddha Co. LLC’s application to put a 24-seat, 3,200 square foot fast food restaurant on a .3 acre parcel next to Taco Bell on the northwest corner of Harrison Avenue and Route 58. 

The board voted  to table its decision on the application for two weeks a month ago, after it became clear the vote would be tied, since one member was out. At its meeting two weeks ago, the board again tabled the vote for two weeks because newly appointed Planning Board member Stan Carey wanted to get more information before voting.

02/06/14 7:00am
02/06/2014 7:00 AM
 (Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Sendlewski)

A rendering of Blue River Estates (File photo courtesy of Jeffrey Sendlewski)

UPDATE: The public hearing on Blue River Estates that was scheduled for tonight’s Riverhead Town Planning Board meeting has been postponed due to errors in posting the meeting notices on adjacent properties, officials say.

The meeting will likely be rescheduled for a future meeting.


09/06/13 12:00pm
09/06/2013 12:00 PM
TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | A two-story restaurant is being proposed for a sliver of land between the Route 58 Taco Bell and Harrison Avenue.

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

The 24-seat, 3,200 square foot restaurant proposed for a .3 acre parcel next to Taco Bell on Route 58 in Riverhead should be required to build a fence preventing its customers from using the adjacent parking lot, according to the owner of the neighboring lot.

Richard Israel, who owns the property containing Taco Bell and a four-story  office building, made those comments to the Riverhead Planning Board Thursday night during a public hearing on Guddha LLC’s plans for a restaurant on the tiny strip of land between Taco Bell and Harrison Avenue.

Mr. Israel, who has developed restaurant sites himself in town, stopped short of opposing Guddha LLC’s proposal, but said, “I do believe this is an overdevelopment of the site.”

Mr. Israel also requested that windows, even fake windows, be required on the western portion of the building so that his clients aren’t looking at a “two-story block wall,” as is currently proposed.

The Planning Board closed the hearing, at which Mr. Israel was the only speaker other than the applicant, but held off on taking any action on the plan until the planning department meets with the the applicant to discuss such changes.

“We only get one chance to make it right,” said Planning Board member Ed Densieski in calling for the meeting.

Guddha LLC principal Chuck Chockalingam agreed to the meeting but said his project was approved by the town architectural review board, which did not make such a requirement.

Planners pointed out that the ARB only makes recommendations and doesn’t have approval power.

Mr. Chockalingam’s proposed restaurant would have eight parking spaces for customers and five for employees, which meets Town Code requirements.

He also received variances from the town Zoning Board of Appeals earlier this year to allow the building to be closer to property lines than normally permitted.

The second floor of the proposed restaurant would not be open to the public, Mr. Chockalingam said. He doesn’t have a tenant yet for the restaurant but said he has been contacted by several prospective tenants.

Mr. Israel requested that a six-foot fence be required between the two properties to prevent garbage and blowing onto his property and to prevent customers on the proposed restaurant from using his parking lot.

“The parking lot adjacent to this is to be used exclusively by my office tenants,” he said.

Mr. Israel also raised concerns that the trees remaining on the property that are not proposed to be removed will die anyway during construction “and will have fallen in my parking lot.”

Mr. Chockalingam said if the trees die during construction, he will replace them.

Mr. Israel doesn’t think eight parking spaces will be enough, saying that a 3,000 square foot restaurant is about the size of the Riverhead Wendy’s.

He said many people have tried to develop this parcel of land in the past and failed. At one time it had a mobile home on it and someone lived there.

Mr. Chockalingam acquired the land through a county auction of properties in tax default.


08/18/13 12:00pm
08/18/2013 12:00 PM

A Five Guys Burger and Fries is coming to Route 58 in Riverhead in the same shopping center where a Starbucks, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Buffalo Wild Wings and Christmas Tree Shops are already expected to open, a representative of the developer said.

The Five Guys will be located near the front of the Saber Riverhead shopping center, which is currently being constructed on the south side of Route 58, just east of Riverhead Raceway.

The Starbucks, which will feature a drive-thru window, will also be located toward the front of the property, officials said. Dick’s Sporting Goods, Christmas Tree Shops, Buffalo Wild Wings, Aldi, and Five Below will all be located toward the back of the shopping center.

Five Guys, whose current nearest location is in Port Jefferson Station, will open in what was originally expected to be a dry retail store, according to representative Rick Decola, who discussed the change before the Riverhead Town Planning Board which approved an amended site plan Thursday.

Mr. Decola said he expects Buffalo Wild Wings to open in October, with Dick’s and Christmas Tree Shops following in November. He did not give a timetable on the other stores.

Five Guys 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.



03/29/13 8:00am
03/29/2013 8:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Kent Animal Shelter kennel attendant Erin McGrellis holds Walter, a 3-year-old French bulldog surrendered by his owner because he was picking on an older dog in the household. He’s now undergoing training to rid him of his bad habits.

Kent Animal Shelter’s plan to build a 10,000-square-foot facility to replace the aging structure on its River Road property in Calverton took a big step forward last Thursday, when the Riverhead Town Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously approved a series of variances needed for the project.

Kent Animal Shelter has been operating at its 2.1-acre River Road location since 1968, during which time it has gotten more than 30,000 animals adopted and has treated more than 60,000 dogs and cats through its spay/neuter program, said executive director Pamela Green.

The nonprofit animal rescue organization’s current facilities “are antiquated by any standard,” Chuck Bowman, vice president of Kent’s board of directors, said at last week’s ZBA hearing.

Mr. Bowman is also a land-use planner who is donating his services for the Kent project, Ms. Green later said.

Editorial: Two new animal shelter efforts need local support

“The shelter is 45 years old and the buildings are falling apart,” Ms. Green told the ZBA. “It really would be a shame if we couldn’t continue our services.”

Kent seeks to remove two old buildings near the river and build a 10,000-square-foot facility that would incorporate the functions of several current buildings into one, Ms. Green said. The new structure will have about 60 indoor dog runs and will be sound-proofed, so noise will not travel outside the building.

“The new building will be so much better for the animals and for the people,” Ms. Green said.

COURTESY DRAWING | A rendering of what the new Kent Animal Shelter will look like.

Kent expects the project to cost about $1.75 million. Kent’s funding comes entirely from private contributions, grants and bequests, Mr. Bowman said.

About three years into a capital campaign that launched in 2010, Kent has more than $400,000 on hand, with future fundraising events planned, Ms. Green.

Typically, such building projects are financed over several years.

The shelter still will need a special permit approval from the Town Board, site plan approval from the Planning Board, a hardship exemption from the state’s Central Pine Barrens Commission and sewage flow approvals from the county health department before it can begin construction on its long-held vision.

Those approvals are expected to take another six to nine months, shelter officials said.

Kent had at one time looked for land at another location to build its new shelter, but found that the town’s zoning doesn’t specifically permit animals shelters anywhere, which is why Kent will need a special permit from the Town Board.

“It’s very difficult to site one where you can actually keep all your neighbors happy,” Mr. Bowman said. “So with that, we decided we were going to stay in our existing, non-conforming site, which is on the Peconic River.”

Kent has already received state approval to build near the river, which is located within the boundaries of the state’s Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act, which limits development near New York rivers.

Kent plans to move the buildings further away from the river, upgrade its sanitary system and build a buffer between the buildings and the river, according to Mr. Bowman.

Kent also purchased a neighboring property to create more of a buffer between the shelter and neighboring properties.

The shelter handles spaying and neutering of animals for Riverhead Town and often takes animals from the town’s shelter and helps get them adopted, Ms. Green said.

Securing approval from the Pine Barrens Commission is expected to be the toughest hurdle facing the project.

At a Dec. 20 hearing before the commission, Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter and Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine, two of its five commissioners, voiced support for Kent.

“They are our de facto municipal shelter,” Mr. Walter said of Kent at the hearing.

But Richard Amper of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society criticized Mr. Walter’s comments and suggested it may be a conflict of interest for Mr. Walter to vote on Kent’s application.

“Kent providing great public service is entirely irrelevant to this application,” Mr. Amper said at the time, indicating that the commission’s vote should be based entirely on whether Kent meets the criteria for a Pine Barrens exemption.

The Long Island Pine Barrens Society is a nonprofit environmental organization and isn’t part of the Pine Barrens Commission, though Mr. Amper is vice president of the commission’s advisory committee and was instrumental in getting the state Pine Barrens Protection Act enacted in the early 1990s.

Those who’d like to contribute to the new shelter fund should contact Pam Green at 631-727-5731 or pamgreen@kentanimalshelter.com.


01/20/13 5:00pm
01/20/2013 5:00 PM
NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | The 'Village' is proposed for this land land on Main Road.

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | The ‘Village’ is proposed for this land land on Main Road.

The Riverhead Town Planning Board held off on scheduling a public hearing on the controversial Village at Jamesport development after a local civic leader pointed out a number of inconsistencies in plans being presented to the public — including confusion over which plan is actually being presented.

Larry Simms of the Save Main Road civic group found there are at least four different versions of the project’s site plan floating around, and said it’s impossible for the public — and possibly the town — to know which is the right one.

The Planning Board’s agenda for last Thursday’s meeting called for a vote to schedule a Feb. 7 public hearing on the site plan application for the Village at Jamesport — a 42,000-square-foot commercial development on 9.7 acres on the north side of Main Road in Jamesport, just north of the Elbow Room restaurant.

Mr. Simms said that in November, Charles Cuddy, the attorney for the applicant, said he had submitted an alternate site plan on Oct. 9, which was on the agenda for discussion at the Nov. 15 Planning Board meeting. Mr. Simms said residents who have been following the case knew nothing of the Oct. 9 plan before showing up at the Nov. 15 meeting. He said that on Jan. 4, he called the planning department to find out if a new plan had been submitted because he heard it was going before the architectural review board. But the plan they were told was going before the ARB was dated Oct. 27, 2010.

Then on Wednesday, a day before the Planning Board meeting, “we came into the planning department to make sure we were not missing anything, and we were shown a new plan, which was dated June 19, 2012,” Mr. Simms said.

And on Thursday, he said, there was another plan, dated April 2011, on display at the Planning Board meeting.

“I’ve been looking at commercial construction plans for more than 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Mr. Simms, who has a background in making and marketing commercial building materials, told the Planning Board. “It looks like a shell game. You have to guess which is the real plan. It’s not possible for us, and probably not for you, to track what’s going on here.”

Mr. Simms said one plan shows 247 parking spaces and another shows 226 parking spaces. He said that when the Town Board granted two special permits for Village at Jamesport to allow two bistros and two professional office buildings instead of the permitted retail uses, it failed to recalculate the parking.

The Town Board, by a resolution agreed to by the applicant, limited the two bistros to a total of 4,000 square feet, instead of 8,000 square feet, which would normally have been permitted.

But Mr. Simms said “you’re still going to have 4,000 square feet of something else” such as retail, which would need parking. He maintains that the application falls short of the required number of parking spaces by about 27 because of the bistros approvals, since bistro parking is based on number of seats, not square footage. The applicant proposes two 50-seat bistros.

The plan that was the subject of the Nov. 15 Planning Board meeting also shows the entrance road to the development moved farther west and closer to the home of Tom and Anne Kowalsick. Robert Stromski, a consultant for the applicant, said the state Department of Transportation wanted the entrance moved farther west.

But the map Mr. Simms was given on Jan. 16 shows that entrance road back where it was in earlier plans.

Town planning director Rick Hanley said he had not seen the Jan. 16 plan.

“I can’t deal with unsolicited plans dropped off a day before a discussion is planned,” Mr. Hanley said.

“I make a motion to table the resolution on the public hearing notice until we have the correct maps,” Planning Board member Lyle Wells said. “We want to make sure everybody is looking at the same map.”

The board agreed, 4-0, with board member Joe Baier absent, to put off the vote to schedule a public hearing.