The Riverhead Zoning Board of Appeals has rejected a Northville farm’s variance request to erect solar panels that would have been used to sell energy back to power provider PSEG-LI.
The owners of a controversial illuminated sign at a Jamesport gas station will not get an answer yet from the Zoning Board of Appeals on whether the sign will be allowed, despite the fact that it’s already standing. (more…)
The owners of the new Walmart store on the west end of Route 58 are seeking variances from the Riverhead Town Zoning Board of Appeals to allow an off-premise directory sign on the adjacent Applebees lot to advertise and identify the new shopping center and the stores located there.
They are also seeking ZBA variance to allow that sign to be larger than what the Town Code permits.
The ZBA has scheduled a hearing on the proposal for its Jan. 9 meeting, which starts at 7 p.m.
The new Walmart shopping center, which is being called Gateway Plaza, includes the Walmart store and several smaller stores under construction on the eastern portion of the 21-acre property.
The proposed directory sign would be located on the Applebees’ lot, according to to the application. The sign would be 96 square feet, 36 square feet more than is currently allowed. It would feature 8-foot panel signs when the limit is currently 4 feet. The sign would be 15 feet tall, nearly three times the current limit of 6 feet. The sign would also have more than the maximum of three businesses displayed on it, would be less than 100 feet from another sign and would be internally lit.
The shopping center is just west of the Applebees restaurant property, which has similar ownership.
The Walmart lot is owned by Headriver LLC and the Applebees’ lot is owned by OC Riverhead 58 LLC, according to town records, but both have the same address in Closter, N.J. That address is also the address of Lerner-Heidenberg Properties, which is advertising space for lease at both the Walmart and Applebees sites on its website.
The new Walmart store is scheduled to open on Jan. 15, and will eventually replace the existing Walmart further east on Route 58.
To the Editor:
I read in total disbelief in the News-Review the problems the owners of The All-Star bowling center are having over a sign including a bowling ball and pin. Their planned sign is one foot over the 15-foot limit? The square footage is more than allowed, including the air space when the town boxed in the sign? Are you kidding me? Here is a business that is giving the residents of our area wholesome recreational activity in a bright, clean, new and exciting environment.
Some members of the Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition are urging the Zoning Board of Appeals not to approve the variance for this sign, and their vice president, Phil Barbato, stated that this area is “becoming Jericho Turnpike all over again. It is creeping east.” Where in the heck has he been? It has already crept east years ago. Starting with the late Joe Janoski and right up until Sean Walter, each supervisor has made sure that all the variances and zoning changes that these major shopping centers needed were approved.
The nature and peacefulness of Riverhead has been desecrated already. I had the opportunity to be in the Foxwood Village community several weeks ago and I was totally appalled at the view between the homes in the community to the clear-cut land behind them for Walmart and whatever else is going in there. Not one tree left standing. I did see this before, but from the view of Route 58, and I was actually sickened by the leveling of the land. Did any one of these developers need a variance? Of course all you have to do is look across the street and see more land cleared for more stores. Of course there also is the clear-cutting of the northeast corner of Northville Turnpike and Route 58 for an office building. Will this ruination ever end?
Several weeks ago in the News-Review, Mr. Walter said something to the effect that going forward the town will make a big effort to leave trees when these projects are developed. I cannot believe that there is anymore land available to develop or many trees left to save.
For heaven’s sake, give the bowling alley the variance it needs for a bowling ball and pin. Or are they easier to push around compared to Costco and Walmart? Compared to all that has gone on for over two decades, what the bowling alley is asking for is minutia.
Marsha Kipperman, Riverhead
The All Star’s request for a new sign consisting of a large bowling bowl and pin is going back for revisions.
At a public hearing Thursday night, the Riverhead Zoning Board of Appeals told the applicants to revisit the town’s Architectural Review Board and come back with a sign the ARB approves.
The All Star, on Route 25 in Riverhead, just west of County Road 105, is seeking variances from the ZBA to allow the sign, which would exceed town size requirements.
The All Star’s name doesn’t include the word “bowling” in it, because the owners want it to be known as more than a bowling alley, they said. But they also feel people driving by don’t recognize that it is a bowling alley.
The All Star had originally sought an electronic sign with moving images, but withdrew that due to community opposition, before any hearings were held. Two weeks ago The All Star came back to the ZBA with a proposal for a large bowling ball and pin on a pedestal. That plan was redesigned to remove the phone number and include the alley’s logo.
Chris Smith, one of The All Star’s owners, said they need a sign that will tell people they’re a bowling alley.
“People drive by and they think it’s a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall or something,” he said. “It doesn’t look like what it is.”
The planning department has measured the proposed bowling ball and pin as being 96 square feet, well over the 32-square-foot maximum allowed by the Town Code and therefore requiring a ZBA variance.
But Mr. Smith disagreed with town’s measurement method. He said the town is just drawing an imaginary box around the proposed structure, which would include “the air around it” as part of the square footage.
He claims the proposed sign is 32 square feet. He said two weeks ago that the bowling pin would be six feet high and would sit on a 10-foot pedestal, with the ball next to it.
The proposed new sign ran into opposition from the ARB and from some residents who spoke at Thursday’s hearing for a variance of the town’s requirements.
“I’m glad the bowling alley is there, I wish them success, but we don’t need a sign that’s two or three times bigger than what the law allows,” said resident Nancy Dillingham. “When they built it, they knew the law.”
“I commend them on finishing the building and opening the business. It looks really nice the way it is,” said Andrea Hanulec, who lives across the street from The All Star. “But I would really hate to see an eyesore of a sign on the road. I consider us the beginning of the North Fork where we are and I would hate to see it marching on, the kind of things that are going on to the west of us.”
Mr. Smith agreed with Ms. Hanulec’s assessment of the North Fork.
But he said the sign they’re seeking is not large in the context of the property’s size.
Richard Searles, chairman of the town’s Architectural Review Board, said the ARB had some issues with the proposed sign.
“We didn’t think it conformed to what we’d like to see at that particular site,” he said. “We’d like to see something different, other than what he proposed.”
ZBA chairman Fred McLaughlin suggested The All Star go back to the ARB and come up with a sign the ARB likes before coming back to the ZBA.
ZBA voted to continue the hearing on Aug. 27 after the ARB makes a recommendation.
Already angered residents of the Foxwood Village and Millbrook communities rallied Thursday night against a proposal for 25-foot light poles at the Shops at Riverhead shopping center.
Residents urged the Riverhead Zoning Board of Appeals to reject the developer’s request to have fewer, but taller, light poles at the complex, which is anchored by Costco. The residents were already irked by the developer’s clearing of trees up to their property lines.
Heritage Riverhead Retail, which is building Shops at Riverhead on the north side of Route 58, was seeking ZBA seeking variances to the Town Code requirement that light poles be no taller than 16 feet.
The applicant said the increased height would allow 60 percent fewer light poles to be installed.
“We would go from 165 poles to 61 if this request is granted,” said Peter Danowski, the attorney for the applicant.
The taller light poles are for aesthetics and safety, he said, because cars frequently crash into light poles when there are lots of them, he said.
Shops at Riverhead also sought a second variance to allow for more lighting than is permitted under the canopy covering the gas pumps at Gostco, which have already been approved. These would be LED lights, Mr. Danowski said, which are brighter and are intended to increase security at the pumps at night.
But neighbors said they don’t trust anything the applicant proposes, especially after the recent tree clearing, which extended all the way up the property line of homes in the southern part of Foxwood Village.
“When Mr. Danowski gets up and speaks about aesthetics, I quake in my shoes,” said Cliff Baldwin of Aquebogue, a member of the committee that drafted the town’s “dark skies” lighting requirements, from which Costco is seeking a variance.
“The poles are that height for a reason,” Mr. Baldwin said. “Extending them to 25 feet is not a good idea.”
Mr. Danowski said the Costco store and the gas pumps are at the southern end of the property, near Riverhead Auto Mall and “more than a football field away.” He said the lights would not affect the neighbors.
Shops at Riverhead also plans to build a 30-foot-wide vegetative buffer along the property line with Foxwood, where the trees had been cleared, he said.
The lights in the parking lot, he said, will comply with the “dark skies” legislation; only the lights under the gas canopy would not. Those lights will be aimed downward, not outward, he said.
The buffer, he said, will be similar to the one built by Foxwood Village about 10 years ago at the corner of Mill and Middle roads.
But residents argued that it will take years for the new trees the developer is planting now to grow large enough to buffer their homes.
“Many of us will be long since gone before it gets like that,” said Foxwood Village resident Robert Hall.
He believes the lights will affect neighboring homes.
Barbara Ross, whose Foxwood Village home is right up against the fence Costco built on the property line, said the trees in the proposed buffer will be eight feet apart, and won’t provide a real buffer. She said the fence the developer installed is transparent.
Ms. Ross said that since the trees were cleared, there’s more wind on her property.
“The trees blow like crazy now,” she said. “Any kind of storm and they’re going to be down on our houses.”
Other residents said noise from Route 58 and Riverhead Raceway is much louder now without the trees.
“We’re going to have a lot of light in the park,” said George Buckingham, manager of the Mill Brook Mobile Home Park, which borders the development on the east. He said they’ve already had increases in noise due to the construction work.
Mr. Hall pointed out that the proposed lighting doesn’t apply to a proposed second phase of the Shops at Riverhead project. The developer could build more on the property if they use transferred development rights from farmland, which the original proposal included, before it was scaled down a few years ago.
“Safety has never been a problem,” said Lynn Tyler of Foxwood Village. “But now that all the trees are down, it’s like, ‘Hey world, we’re here, we’re old, come and rob us.”
She and other speakers felt the real reason behind the request for taller poles is to save the developer money.
“Let’s not have the Town Board change all the rules to suit the money people,” she said.
“This request has nothing to do with aesthetics or safety, it has to do with profit,” said Mike Cuomo of Foxwood Village.
The ZBA opted to continue the hearing at its next meeting on Aug. 8.
Riverhead Town has a law in place prohibiting appointed members of boards such as the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals from serving on political parties’ executive committees.
But Supervisor Sean Walter says he plans to introduce legislation expanding that prohibition to include elected officials as well.
The supervisor unveiled his proposal at Tuesday’s Town Board meeting, when board members presented a plaque to Marge Acevedo for her 25 years on the Board of Assessment Review.
Ms. Acevedo stepped down from that board earlier this year after she was named chair of the Riverhead Democratic committee. Mr. Walter said Brookhaven Town already has a law prohibiting elected officials from holding positions on the executive boards of political party committees, such as committee chair or vice chair.
The only current elected official in Riverhead who would be affected by the proposal is assessor Mason Haas, who is vice chair of the town Republican committee and is expected to take over as chairman later this year.
Mr. Walter, also a Republican, said he plans to discuss his proposal with the Town Board at Thursday’s work session.