03/12/15 6:00am
03/12/2015 6:00 AM
Forty businesses were cited last month for failing to clear their sidewalks. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

Forty businesses were cited last month for failing to clear their sidewalks. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

To the editor:

Thank you for the stories you wrote about the snow safety hazards along Route 58. I worry about my life and safety every time I need to go to the bus stop.

I was very surprised that, after property owners were fined for not shoveling the snow on the sidewalks and after the recent snowfall, the sidewalks are in worse shape and more dangerous than they were before.  (more…)

02/27/15 1:50pm
02/27/2015 1:50 PM

Dallas Wiese walks up Route 58 about once a week to meet his mother after her shift at Stop & Shop ends. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

Many Riverhead taxpayers have made clear from time to time — whether it’s at public meetings, through correspondence or conversations with newspaper staff or even in our online comments section — that they think lots of big businesses in town have it too easy.

Whether the reason is the tax breaks given by the Industrial Development Agency, the terms of a final site plan approval by the Planning Board or — most recently and quite obviously — lax code enforcement over shoveling sidewalks on Route 58, the public’s perception sometimes is that the town overlooks average taxpayers in favor of of business owners.

Related: Riverhead issues $10K in tickets for uncleared Route 58 sidewalks

Those perceptions could be argued: The town’s code enforcement resources are limited and businesses do generate jobs and tax dollars. If they don’t get some kind of breaks here, they will just get them elsewhere.

But for a family earning the town’s median household income of $62,144 — or the 43 percent of families bringing in less than $50,000 — those arguments can understandably fall on deaf ears. And frequently the people walking up and down Route 58 in need of sidewalks are earning on the lower end of the income scale and rely on public transit to get from place to place.

It should go without saying that enforcing the town’s code is the right thing to do. Unfortunately it took nearly until March for tickets to be issued — far too long for those forced to walk along a busy thoroughfare in below-freezing weather, not to mention the drivers who nearly hit defenseless pedestrians.

The fine for failing to clear sidewalks — $250 — is rather paltry in relation to the size of the town’s budget, but the rules are the rules. Hopefully, the town will keep up with enforcement and will press the issue harder next winter should similar circumstances arise.

If businesses continue to choose not to comply, perhaps the fine should be increased.

02/24/15 1:40pm
02/24/2015 1:40 PM
A woman makes her way up Route 58 on Tuesday morning before stepping into a parking lot. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

A woman makes her way up Route 58 on Tuesday morning before stepping into a parking lot. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

Winter is getting old for pretty much everyone at this point: record-lows have been recorded in the tri-state area on multiple occasions in February.

Week after week, more snow seems to be in the forecast.

But for those walking along Route 58 to get to a bus stop, or to work, the cold isn’t all that’s getting old. The winter can be a dangerous time for a pedestrian walking Route 58; many property owners along the busy corridor have not shoveled their sidewalks, as per town regulations, leaving pedestrians to either maneuver over ice and snow or just walk on the road itself. (more…)

01/20/15 10:00am
01/20/2015 10:00 AM

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 5.20.34 PM

Another commercial development could be headed to Route 58 soon.

The Riverhead Town Planning Board last Thursday reviewed an application for a new retail center in between the town highway yard and Hudson City Savings Bank, across the street from Lowe’s.

Apple Honda owner Irwin Garsten is seeking to build a 64,000-square-foot retail center on an undeveloped 13.5-acre site he owns on the north side of Route 58.

Even though the adjacent Riverhead Centre development has two traffic signals right next door, the Garsten project will likely need another curb cut on Route 58 because the Riverhead Centre owners declined to allow a cross access easement which would allow traffic from one shopping center to cross over to the next without coming back onto Route 58, according to Peter Danowski, the attorney for Mr. Garsten.

He said he guesses that there won’t be a traffic signal there.

Mr. Garsten’s access point on Route 58 will likely have a right-turn-only restriction, he said. The property also extends as far north as Osborn Avenue, and will also have an entrance and exit on that road, as well, according to Mr. Danowski.

The other issue on the Garsten site that was discussed by the Planning Board last Thursday involved a water body on the north end of the property.

“This has pond in front of it, which some people said was not a wetland,” said Jeff Murphree, the town’s planning and building administrator. “We said yes it was. So we sent this back to (the state Department of Environmental Conservation) which said, ‘yes, it’s a wetland.”

Mr. Danowski said the so-called wetland was a hole designed to capture rainwater runoff from Route 58 years ago.

He said the DEC had given him a letter several years ago saying it was not a formal wetland. but once the Garsten application was filed about two years ago, the DEC decided to take steps to classify it as a wetland, a designation Mr. Garsten has challenged.

“We’ve done everything they’ve asked us to do,” Mr. Danowski said, adding that the project has been moved back away from the wetland and a small building toward the front of the property has been eliminated.

The Planning Board voted to officially take “lead agency” status over the review of the application, rather than the DEC.

“We should work with DEC and the applicant together to look at a good design for the project,” Mr. Murphree said.

“We’re ready to rock and roll,” Mr. Danowski said. “We’ll do whatever Jeff wants.”

01/08/15 8:44am
01/08/2015 8:44 AM


A Cutchogue man with a history of arrests was charged Wednesday night for twice burglarizing a Route 58 business in recent weeks, Riverhead Town police said.

Joseph Reiter Jr., 37, of Cutchogue, who was wanted on New York State parole warrant, was arrested about 10:55 p.m. and charged with two counts of third-degree burglary, a felony, police said.


12/15/14 10:00am
12/15/2014 10:00 AM
A 7,200 sf retail building is proposed for this grass lot in Applebee's parking on Rt 58

A 7,200-square-foot retail building is proposed for this grass lot in the Applebee’s parking on Route 58. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

More stores appear headed to the west end of Route 58.

The owners of the property where Applebee’s restaurant is located are proposing to build a 7,200-square-foot retail building featuring two stores on what is now an undeveloped grass pad in the east end of Applebee’s parking lot.

Applicant SL Gateway II, LLC and UB Riverhead II, LLC, which have like ownership to the Applebee’s property and the adjacent Walmart and Bob’s Discount Furniture shopping center, are proposing retail stores of 4,200 and 3,000 square feet, respectively, in the new building.

The properties are both listed by New Jersey-based Lerner Properties.

According to Kimberly Judd, the attorney for the developers, the Applebee’s site plan for property was approved in 1999, when the land was zoned Industrial A. The site plan included the stores in the eastern pad and the developers proceeded to build the restaurant, the parking lot, the lights and all of the infrastructure.

The only thing never built were the stores.

In 2000, the town rezoned the property to Destination Retail Center zoning, which actually required larger stores than what was previously approved for the site.

As a result, the applicant needed to go to the Riverhead Town Zoning Board of Appeals Thursday night to get variances to allow them to build less than what the zoning requires.

Under the DRC zoning, the minimum building size is 10,000 square feet, and the minimum store size is 3,500 square feet, which meant that the previously approved retail building no longer conformed with zoning.

“What we’re asking for is more restrictive” than zoning allows, Ms. Judd said.

The application also required some ZBA variances to allow the side yard setbacks, which conformed under Industrial A back in 1999 but not under DRC now, to be less that what zoning allows.

“The proposed variances are not substantial,” Ms. Judd told the ZBA Thursday. “We would have to rip up the parking and curbing otherwise.”

The ZBA approved the variances by a 4-0 vote, with ZBA member Frank Seabrook absent.

Asked afterward if there are any tenants lined up for the proposed new buildings, applicant Jason Lerner said, “None that we want to announce at this time.”