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.”

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10/29/14 8:00am
10/29/2014 8:00 AM
(Credit: Tim Gannon)

The former Rolle Brothers Farm Equipment property in Riverhead. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

A proposed 38,204-square-foot shopping center on the site of the former Rolle Brothers Farm Equipment property on Route 58 received re-approvals last week from the Zoning Board of Appeals for some variances it originally received two years ago.

(more…)

01/24/14 7:00am
01/24/2014 7:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Riverhead’s town code enforcement recently issued a notice of violation to Turtle Rescue of the Hamptons in Jamesport.

You don’t have to be a 5,000-square-foot farm market for Riverhead Town to cite you for violating town code. In fact, your main draw could be as small as a hummingbird or box turtle.

While Riverhead Town Board members recently split on their decision to take the owners of a Jamesport farm stand to court, Riverhead Town’s code enforcement unit recently issued notices of violation to The Baiting Hollow Hummingbird Sanctuary and Turtle Rescue of the Hamptons in Jamesport because neither operation is a permitted use under the zoning of the property where it’s located, according to Riverhead town attorney Bob Kozakiewicz, who is in charge of the code enforcement unit.

Supervisor Sean Walter said he couldn’t speak about specifics of the enforcement actions, but echoed Mr. Kozakiewicz’ sentiments.

“It’s not our intention to chase away the hummingbirds or the turtles. We just need people to come into compliance,” Mr. Walter said.

Mr. Kozakiewicz said the turtle rescue organization has been issued a summons in town Justice Court because it is not a permitted use in the Agriculture Protection Zone in which it’s located.

As for the hummingbird sanctuary, Mr. Kozakiewicz said a notice of violation was issued in order to cover the town in the event neighbors of the sanctuary filed a lawsuit, which they have since done.

The notice of violation states that operation of a hummingbird sanctuary that is open to the public is a prohibited use, and that continuing that use would require a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals as well as site plan approval from the Planning Board. It further states that if no remedy to the violation is made before Jan. 18, the town may follow through with legal action, though Mr. Kozakiewicz said he does not intend to and the town has not issued a summons to the hummingbird sanctuary.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said she was surprised to hear that the town had taken any action at all against the organizations.

“Are you kidding me?” she said when told of the enforcement actions. “We have overcrowded houses all throughout this town and code enforcement is writing tickets to the hummingbird guy?”

Ms. Giglio said she was unaware of the notices issued to the Baiting Hollow Hummingbird Sanctuary, run by Paul Adams on his property on Sound Avenue, and Turtle Rescue of the Hamptons, run by Karen Testa Lombardo from a home on Manor Lane in Jamesport.

Mr. Adams has run the sanctuary for more than a dozen years at his Sound Avenue property , which overlooks Long Island Sound and where he has planted flowers that attract hummingbirds. The sanctuary is open to the public only during the month of August and, according to the orgnization’s website, does not accept donations or an admission fee. Mr. Adams requires visitors to sign a waiver.

Nonetheless, a group of neighbors living along the road leading to the property have recently filed a lawsuit against Mr. Adams and the hummingbird sanctuary.

The lawsuit was filed by Frederick and Debra Terry, Kamal and Sabita Bherwani, and Shawn Hamilton against Paul and Rafael Adams.

Mr. Adams said they are seeking to have the sanctuary closed and they are seeking $3 million in damages. The lawsuit, filed Dec. 23, was not on file at the county center as of Tuesday morning, except for the summary page identifying the litigants. Anthony Tohill, the plaintiffs’ attorney, did not return a call seeking comment and Mr. Terry could not be reached for comment by presstime.

Mr. Adams said the lawsuit raises two key questions: “Does the town code permit me to maintain my property in a natural state as a bird sanctuary? And does the code permit me to receive invited visitors at my residence there, via the established, deeded and surveyed right of way from Sound Avenue?”

He believes the answer to both questions is yes.

As for the turtle rescue, Charles Cuddy, the attorney for Ms. Lombardo, said she brings turtles to the site that have been injured and need to be rehabilitated. She is a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and her work is recognized and endorsed by the state, Mr. Cuddy said, adding that she does all the work as a volunteer and receives no money for it.

There are usually about a dozen turtles on the property at any one time, he said, and she has other volunteers who help.

When a report of an injured turtle comes in, Ms. Lombardo goes out and brings it back to the Manor Lane house.

“The rehabilitation consists of medicating the turtles. It doesn’t consist of her conducting any surgery,” Mr. Cuddy said at a June 27 town Zoning Board of Appeals hearing on the turtle rescue operation. Turtles that need surgery are taken to a veterinarian, he said.

“She keeps turtles that are essentially without any odor, without any noise. They don’t do anything to the neighborhood,” Mr. Cuddy said. “They are without any impact that I can see, and I’ve been there many times.”

Mr. Cuddy said there are many wildlife rehabilitators in the state and many of them operate out of homes.

The turtle rescue had gone before the town Zoning Board of Appeals last year seeking an interpretation as to whether a such an operation can be considered an accessory use.

There was one hearing, during which no one raised any opposition to the operation, and the ZBA application was withdrawn a few weeks later. ZBA members had indicated they wanted to inspect the facility.

Mr. Cuddy said it was withdrawn because one ZBA member, whom he didn’t identify, had indicated that he or she would not support the application.

Mr. Kozakiewicz said he is not aware of any complaints from neighbors about the turtle rescue operation. Mr. Cuddy said one person has complained about it.

The Justice Court case against the turtle rescue is still pending, Mr. Kozakiewicz said.

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