07/26/13 2:30pm
07/26/2013 2:30 PM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Foxwood Village resident Barbara Ross speaks at Thursday night’s ZBA meeting against a proposal to install 25-foot lights in the adjacent shopping center.

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.

[email protected]

07/17/13 4:00pm
07/17/2013 4:00 PM
Sean Walter of Riverhead

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Supervisor Sean Walter (right) says elected officials should not serve on political parties’ executive committees.

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.

[email protected]

07/26/12 5:00am
07/26/2012 5:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The Peconic River boardwalk that runs along the East Main Street parking lot.


These docks are our docks

My family and I enjoy tying our boat up at the Riverhead town dock. We refer to it as “going up the river.” Occasionally we will have a meal at one of the fine downtown eateries or sometimes we just get ice cream and enjoy the riverside view. Normally we have most of the bulkhead to ourselves and wonder why more boaters don’t take advantage of this privilege.

That’s why I was perplexed by Hyatt’s proposal to manage the docks and charge $2.50 per foot for short-term (transient) dockage. That’s $50 for a 20-foot boat! At that price we will definitely find another destination to spend our leisure time and money.

This could be the end of my letter; however, since I live and pay taxes in Riverhead, I would like to see the continuation of growth that has begun to flourish downtown. Boats are an attraction that draw people and enhance the atmosphere of the riverfront. I believe that charging for short-term dockage will discourage downtown growth. I also ask myself: Why would the Hyatt want to get involved?

Lou Larsen


Help beautify our downtown

The BID has issues with Councilwoman Jodi Giglio over the handling of downtown. Aside from events, part of bringing people downtown is beautification of the area. The Riverhead Garden Club has been working hard to restore the historic 1850 Corwin English knot garden at the East End Art gallery. First, our dwarf boxwoods were stolen, which had been planted at our expense, and only through the generous donation of Councilmen George Gabrielsen did we get mulch and marigolds to plant. The sprinklers don’t work anymore so members of the garden club hand water the garden.

If we want visitors to walk down Main Street and shop and eat at local places we must make it attractive. The garden club is involved in many local projects and it is difficult to “spread ourselves so thin,” so to speak. Email our president, Regina Rouge, at [email protected] and let us know how you can help.

Judy Kayton


Put politics aside

The town Zoning Board of Appeals has a vacancy. In addition, another seat will become vacant in January 2013. I wish to appeal to the all-Republican Town Board to consider the qualified Democratic applicants that have submitted their resumés. One such applicant is Mr. Larry Williams. Mr. Williams is a longtime resident of Riverhead and is currently serving on the Riverhead creation committee. He is president of his local civic association and is co-founder of the East End Voters Coalition. Mr. Williams has demonstrated his qualifications and dedication in serving Riverhead over the years. The Zoning Board of Appeals will do well to have Mr. Williams on their team. I am pleased to know that three Town Board members — Jim Wooten, John Dunleavy and Jodi Giglio — have put aside political partisanship and pledged to support Mr. Williams’ appointment to the ZBA. His appointment will break the cycle of exclusion by this administration. The ZBA has important work to do in our growing and developing town. So, let these vacancies be filled quickly by qualified applicants regardless of political affiliations, for the good of Riverhead taxpayers.

Marlando Williams

Editor’s note: Mr. Williams ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for a Town Board seat in 2010. He is not related to Larry Williams.


Ban assault rifles

As a native Westerner born in Aurora and a grandson of Fairplay, Colo., homesteaders, owning rifles and pistols was common.

My dad gave me my great-grandfather’s shotgun and as a kid I rebuilt a .22 rifle. I’m not a hunter, haven’t shot a weapon since I was in the military, but I believe in the right to own guns.

But an assault weapon? Why? You certainly wouldn’t use one to hunt. It’s primary purpose is to immediately kill or maim combatants, certainly not the innocent.

Murder is a very sad part of living in our world today, but so too is cold-blooded carnage like what just happened in my hometown. That’s because of the availability of assault weapons to the general public.

Enough! Please tell our lawmakers to ban the sale of these weapons.

Thanks to our forefathers we have the right to own them, but why would you want one?

Bert Vogel


Ignorance is bliss

John Henry’s Guest Spot, “Our ignorance on issues is dangerous,” (July 19) points out an ignorance in the voting age group of 18- to 29-year-old Americans.

Mr. Henry used words like staggering, breathtaking, appalling and alarming. He noted Pew research as a respected organization. I agree with Mr. Henry that “ignorance isn’t bliss.”

With Mr Henry’s article in mind, I found a Pew Research report from November 2008, called “Young Voters in the 2008 Election.” The report simply states “66 percent of those under age 30 voted for Barack Obama.”

I thank Mr. Henry for bringing this problem to light. I also believe knowledge of the issues is extremely important when voting in November.

Jim Breitenbach


Whose interests at heart?

Last week, casino Billionaire Sheldon Adelson announced a $5 million contribution to Eric Cantor’s YG Action Fund super PAC. This is significant to all of us who live in the 1st Congressional District, because Mr. Cantor has hosted multiple, high-dollar fundraisers for Republican Congressional candidate Randy Altschuler.

Two years ago, our local airwaves were barraged with hundreds of thousands of dollars of ads from Karl Rove’s American Crossroads super PAC supporting Mr. Altschuler. This year, with the Citizen’s United ruling opening all elections to unlimited secret contributions, these ads funded by groups outside our community will blanket our airwaves. Look forward to a thousand commercials featuring a narrator with a deep, scary voice trying to convince us that Mr. Altschuler (a Suffolk County newcomer) will better represent our interests than Tim Bishop, who has spent his life in dedicated public service where he grew up — eastern Long Island

Do you think that Mr. Adelson’s main concern has anything to do with the concerns of our community, or is he simply placing a bet on which party will give him the biggest tax break on his billions?

Mr. Altschuler came to this district three years ago after failing to get nominated for Congress in New Jersey. He flooded our CD in 2010 with thousands of road signs and the largest billboards our district has ever seen. This year we’ll see if Mr. Rove’s and Mr. Adelson’s money together can put him over the top.

If it does, what does that say for the state of our democracy?

Jerry Silverstein


Stay away, Sally

R.I.P. Sally Ride, 1951 to 2012

1st American woman astronaut.

Ph.D. in physics and astrophysics from Stanford University.

Loving partner of Tam O’Shaughnessy.

She didn’t live long enough to be banned from being a Boy Scout leader.

When will we learn?

Bob Feger

05/19/12 3:21pm
05/19/2012 3:21 PM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | The former Northville School House on Sound Avenue.

Does a microbrewery constitute “agricultural production?”

That’s the question the Riverhead Zoning Board of appeals will have to answer following an upcoming hearing on turning a nearly 100-year-old former Sound Avenue school house into a microbrewery.

A company called McCarthy’s on the Green is seeking to convert the old Northville School House into the “Old School House Brewery,” said attorney John Ciarelli, who represents property owner John Reeve Jr.

Town planning director Rick Hanley rejected the company’s application on March 21 on the grounds that the brewery would be an accessory use to agricultural production and as such the 3.9-acre property falls short of the town’s seven acre minimum.

The hearing is scheduled for the ZBA’s May 24 meeting beginning at 7 p.m. at Riverhead Town Hall.

For additional information read next week’s edition of The Riverhead News-Review.

01/28/12 9:00am
01/28/2012 9:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Jamesport.

The owners of the Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Jamesport were granted a two-year extension of a prior Zoning Board of Appeals variance Thursday night that allows the Inn to continue hosting catered events outdoors.

The approval came despite the fact that several speakers at Thursday’s ZBA meeting urged the board to reject the application.

The Inn only held one outdoor event last year, despite having received ZBA approval to do so in 2010, because their prior approval wasn’t long enough to be able to schedule things like weddings, which must be planned more than a year in advance, according to Hawkins Inn attorney Frank Yakaboski.

Because of this, they asked for a two-year extension of the 2010 variance, he said.

Mr. Yakaboski said they have complied with all the terms of the previous variance.

Bill Welsh, who lives across the street from the Inn on South Jamesport Avenue, said there had been noise complaints about events held at the Hawkins Inn in the past, but not since Keith Luce took over as proprietor of the restaurant.

Phil Barbato of Jamesport, who also is vice president of the Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition, said it’s impossible to say they haven’t created noise when they haven’t had the type of events they are seeking to get approval to have.

Also speaking against the application Thursday were Georgette Keller, president of the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association; John Newman of Jamesport; Angela DeVito of South Jamesport; and  John Andrejack of Jamesport, who had Mr. Welsh read a letter he wrote into the record.

Ms. DeVito said violations of the conditions of the variance could result in overturning the variance.

ZBA members had said there were five police reports at the Inn last year. Two of them were calls for ambulance service, and three were complaints, of which two were from the same person and one was anonymous.

“Can I ask you a question, Ms. DeVito?” asked ZBA member Otto Wittmeier. “Do the residents dislike this place?”

Ms. DeVito said they do not.

Ms. Keller said the Inn is considered by the town to be a Country Inn, and that restaurants are not an allowed accessory use to Country Inns. Because of this, she thinks the current application is essentially a use variance application, which under state law is required to meet more stringent criteria for approval.

“What seems like a small break for someone here and a small break for someone else there can add up over a number of years to the point where you could very well have a situation where you have a Riverhead that no one would recognize anymore,” Mr. Barbato told the ZBA Thursday.

The Hawkins Inn recently received Town Planning Board approval for a breezeway connecting the Luce-Hawkins Restaurant with a barn in back of it. Under town code, this would make the two buildings officially count as one, and would allow the owners to build guest rooms in the barn building.

Having the additional rooms would also allow the restaurant to serve more customers, Mr. Yakaboski said.

“We are looking for ways to remain economically viable,” Mr. Yakaboski said. “We are bleeding, and I don’t think it’s a secret. What we’re planning to do with the out-building (barn) and the request we’re making tonight for the extension will hopefully make us economically viable. We’re looking to continue to operate the business.”

The ZBA unanimously approved a two-year extension of the prior variance to allow catering outdoors.

[email protected]

01/18/12 11:00am
01/18/2012 11:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Jamesport.

The owners of the Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Jamesport are seeking a two-year extension of a variance granted last year that allows them to hold outdoor events in a tent, such as weddings and graduations. But they will need a second public hearing before the Riverhead Town Zoning Board of Appeals, because the legal notice advertising the hearing held last Thursday incorrectly described its purpose.

The hearing notice that was published in the News-Review, as well as on the ZBA’s own agenda and on the town’s website, described the hearing as a proposal to reopen a prior hearing seeking an interpretation of whether the town’s definition of country inn allows incidental uses such as weddings, graduations and anniversaries, and whether such events could be held outside.

But Frank Yakaboski, the inn’s attorney, said the company was seeking a two-year renewal of the variance granted in November 2010, which expired late last year.

When questioned by audience members at the first hearing, ZBA attorney Scott DeSimone said the legal notice was incorrect. The ZBA will continue the hearing, this time with the proper wording, at its Jan. 26 meeting.

Bill Welsh, who lives across the street from the Hawkins Inn, said he couldn’t recall any outdoor weddings held there over the past year. Mr. Yakaboski said that’s because weddings are planned well in advance and they couldn’t schedule them without assurances that they would be allowed to do so, which is why they are now requesting a two-year extension.

[email protected]

01/18/12 9:00am

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Owners of a gas station on the southeast corner of Ostrander Avenue and Route 58 are seeking to reopen.

The owners of an abandoned gas station at the southeast corner of Ostrander Avenue and Route 58 are seeking to reopen it as a gas station, but they’re facing zoning obstacles.

The property was rezoned in 2004 to a category that doesn’t permit gas stations and, since the site was inactive and the gas station use abandoned for more than a year, the Town Code says it’s no longer an allowed use there.

The landowners, Strong Oil Co. of Water Mill, are asking the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals for permission to re-establish the gas station use there. Their attorney, Mike Walsh, said the station closed in spring 2010 only to comply with state and county regulations regarding tank removal and replacement. That job was completed in 2010, but the owners decided to sell the property, he said. Strong Oil has a contract with Stop & Shop, which operates gas stations in conjunction with Shell, but the prospective new owners installed monitoring wells to make sure the property was clean before they bought it, which slowed down the process, Mr. Walsh said.

He argued at a ZBA hearing last Thursday that the delay was due in part to compliance with county and state regulations, which pushed them past the one-year limit.

ZBA attorney Scott DeSimone disagreed.

“The case law is pretty clear that in any ordinance that has a specific time reference, intent no longer matters,” Mr. DeSimone said. “If there’s a specific durational period, that’s it. It doesn’t matter what the intent was. Based upon the time line sheet you presented, it seems to me the one year has come and gone and the use is gone.”

Mr. Walsh said he will present case law that says the opposite.

The ZBA adjourned the hearing until Jan. 26.

[email protected]

02/25/11 12:37pm
02/25/2011 12:37 PM
pharmacy and bank proposed for Calverton

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A pharmacy and bank is proposed for this parcel at the intersection of Route 25 and Edwards Avenue in Calverton.

A bank and 24-hour pharmacy could be coming to Edwards Avenue in Calverton — adding to what some say is a developing hamlet center — but only if Riverhead Town’s Zoning Board of Appeals allows the proposals to move forward.

Neither business is permitted on the property under current zoning.

A group called 1998 Peconic LLC, headed by developer Paul Elliott and Jim Miller of Miller Environmental, has proposed putting a 13,852-square-foot pharmacy and a 4,092-square-foot bank on the vacant 3.29-acre lot directly south of the now-closed Village Crossroads restaurant on Edwards Avenue.

Those same applicants built the gas station that sits between the restaurant property and the Riverhead Charter School on Route 25. Mr. Miller’s company is located farther south on Edwards Avenue.

To get such a variance, an applicant must show that none of the permitted uses are viable; that the hardship the applicant faces is unique and not “self-created;” and that the use would not adversely impact the surrounding area.

Chris Tartaglia of High Point Engineering, a representative of the applicant, said during a ZBA hearing on the variance application last Thursday night that the permitted uses — warehouses, lumberyards, agricultural protection — basically fall into two categories that require more land.

Charles Voorhis, a planner also representing the applicants, said the property is unique because it is surrounded by a school, deli, gas station and the shuttered restaurant.

In the past, permitted uses such as a lumberyard and more recently a propane storage facility have been proposed on the property and have met with opposition from the community and from Riverhead Charter School officials, Mr. Voorhis explained to the ZBA board members.

“We’ve pretty much exhausted the list of allowable uses on this district,” Mr. Voorhis said. “The only inquiries that have come forth have been by banks and pharmacies.”

The proposed uses would generate an estimated $73,000 in property taxes, $513,000 in sales tax and would create 50 construction jobs and 40 operational jobs, Mr. Voorhis said.

He said the property owners now pay about $22,000 in taxes, insurance and maintenance fees.

The proposed pharmacy would operate 24 hours per day, seven days per week, while the bank office would be open from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

The applicants have not publicly identified specific tenants for the sites.

Peconic LLC is proposing 128 parking spaces, which is more than the 98 required under the current zoning, and to allow the restaurant, should it reopen, to use part of its property for overflow parking.

Richard Israel, who runs the real estate company that owns the restaurant, voiced support for the proposed use variance. He said he is in negotiations with a potential tenant who would reopen the restaurant, which also is zoned industrially.

“We feel that the hamlet of Calverton has been growing ever since the Charter School came there,” Mr. Israel said. “We feel there’s more need to have more services there.”

He added, “I look forward to Calverton becoming a little mini-center. The industrial uses in that general area are kind of absurd. Maybe with changes and some variances, we can bring the neighborhood to where it should be, as a little community center.”
The ZBA adjourned its hearing until March 24.

Mr. Elliott said he will present his plans to the Greater Calverton Civic Association on March 10.

[email protected]