05/10/14 10:00am
05/10/2014 10:00 AM
(Credit: Tim Gannon)

(Credit: Tim Gannon)

For readers out there who aren’t big town hall buffs, our government reporter, Tim Gannon, does a bang-up job each week reporting live from public Town Board meetings. In a media cycle that calls for fast, reliable information, his live blogs — with quotes, photos and meeting details along with his built-in perspective from 18 years covering the town — offer a great glimpse into the inner workings of our local government, if that’s your thing. Of course, since I’m an editor it’s my job to follow the news out of our local schools, governments and business communities (more…)

04/26/14 10:00am
04/26/2014 10:00 AM
Bob's Discount Furniture and Pet Valu will be moving in next to Walmart. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Bob’s Discount Furniture and Pet Valu will be moving in next to Walmart. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

The building next to Walmart is soon expected to be filled by a furniture and pet store, which should be starting to open by Memorial Day.

The tenants, identified at Thursday night’s Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, “at this point are Bob’s Furniture store and a chain called Pet Valu,” said attorney Linda Margolin, who was representing the property owner of the Walmart site at a hearing seeking a sign variance for the property. 

Bob’s Discount Furniture has 52 locations in 11 states in the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions, including four stores in Nassau and Suffolk counties, the nearest being in Nesconset.

The company is headquartered in Manchester, Conn. and was founded in 1991. In addition to furniture, the stores also feature a “complimentary cafe with gourmet coffee, ice cream, fresh baked cookies and candy,” according to the company web site.

Pet Valu is a Canadian-based pet food and supply chain that has more than 500 locations in Canada and the northeast United States, with the nearest one being in Hauppauge.

Jeffrey Locklear, building supervisor with Kane Builders, said on site Friday that he expected work to be done by Memorial Day weekend. He said Bob’s would like to be open by Memorial Day, with Pet Valu opening up soon after.

The ZBA on Thursday approved the sign variance, in which the owners of the Walmart shopping center — which is being called Garteway Plaza — sought permission for a second directory sign which would be located on the Applebee’s property just east of Gateway Plaza.  It would be identical to the one at the west end of the property.

Both the Walmart site and the Applebee’s site have affiliated ownership, and they are asking that the second directory sign be on the Applebee’s property by the eastern entrance to the shopping center, aligned with Kroemer Avenue, because the electronics for the traffic control lights are buried on the northwest corner of this intersection, which is on the Gateway Plaza land, according to Ms. Margolin.

The 27,000 square foot shopping center on the eastern portion of Gateway Plaza is under construction and doesn’t have any tenants now.

Town officials say they haven’t yet received any applications for Bob’s Discount Furniture or Pet Valu.

In addition to the Gateway Plaza and Applebee’s, the site plan approval for Applebee’s from more than 14 years ago also allows the developers to build another retail store on a vacant 7,200 square pad in the eastern portion of the Applebee’s parking lot.

04/25/14 5:15pm
04/25/2014 5:15 PM
The site of construction at Costco in late March. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

The site of construction at Costco in late March. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

The controversial Costco/Shops at Riverhead development on Route 58 has been issued a stop work order, putting the entire project on hold until the developer can show that the work being done is in conformance with its approved site plan, according to Riverhead Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz.  (more…)

04/03/14 11:55am
04/03/2014 11:55 AM


Riverhead police have reported the arrest of a South Jamesport man accused of being a serial shoplifter three months after releasing Walmart surveillance images and asking for the public’s help in finding him.

Investigators said they received several phone calls identifying the man as 32-year-old Joshua Georges.

Mr. Georges was arrested and charged with three counts of petit larceny in relation to three separate incidents at the older Walmart store on Route 58, police said. He was released without bail.

Mr. Georges is accused of stealing “assorted electronics” from Walmart.

In January, investigators said that between Oct. 23 and Nov. 15, the suspect entered the store and broke into an electronics cabinet. In one instance, he was seen leaving the scene in a light blue 1994 Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck.

03/27/14 7:00pm
03/27/2014 7:00 PM
The site of the Costco/Shops at Riverhead plaza on Route 58. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

The site of the Costco/Shops at Riverhead plaza on Route 58 on Thursday. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

The developers of the Costco/Shops at Riverhead development on Route 58 have been issued a stop work order barring them from taking sand on or off the site, according to Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz.

“There’s an allegation that they were exporting sand, as seen by code enforcement officer Richard Downs on Tuesday,” Mr. Kozakiewicz said.


03/24/14 5:00pm
03/24/2014 5:00 PM
Tom Edler from Riverhead finishes up a chalkboard drawing at the Starbucks on Route 58. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Tom Edler from Riverhead finishes up a chalkboard drawing at the Starbucks on Route 58. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Good news for Riverheaders looking for their coffee fix: the Starbucks on Route 58 is now open.

And next-door, a new structure is being built to house a Vitamin Shoppe, officials with the Saber plaza said.

The coffee shop held a soft opening Monday, and will host a grand opening celebration in four weeks, said supervisor Amanda Delong. The store, which is located in the shopping center just east of Riverhead Raceway that holds Christmas Tree Shops, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Aldi’s, includes a drive-through window and will be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day, she said.

That shopping center also includes a Dick’s Sporting GoodsFive BelowAldiChristmas Tree Shop, and a Buffalo Wild Wings. 

“We’re just trying to get the word out, but so far [business] has been good,” Ms. Delong said.

The building next door — which is still under construction — will be a Vitamin Shoppe that is expected to open near the end of June, a Saber employee said.


03/21/14 11:08am
03/21/2014 11:08 AM
Chuck Chockalingam suggested that he feels the board was biased against him. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

An application filed by Chuck Chockalingam was rejected on Thursday night. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

A plan to build a 3,200-square-foot restaurant on three-tenths of an acre on Route 58 was rejected by the Riverhead Planning Board Thursday, following a debate in which the applicant implied there was a bias against him, though stopped short of calling it racism.

On a resolution to approve the 24-seat restaurant, the vote was 3-2 against, with board members Ed Densieski, Stan Carey and Lyle Wells opposed, and Richard O’Dea and Joe Baier in favor. The vote on the application — first filed in October of 2012 — had been delayed for several meetings due to a lack of a full board at the last four meetings, and the three board members who voted against the application had all publicly stated their position at prior meetings.

Applicant Chuck Chockalingam, who said he is of Indian descent, suggested that he feels the board was biased against him in a memo to the board asking the board members who opposed the application to “reconsider their votes based not the merits of the application without any prejudice and bias.”

Bill Duffy, the planning board attorney, asked Mr. Chockalingam to specify what he was meant by that.

“Have you received anything from this board that said anything to make you think they’re being prejudiced or biased?” Mr. Duffy asked.

“No, but the indications are leading to that, because following the hearings going over two years, I’ve basically done everything the board has wanted,” Mr. Chockalingam said.

He said every time he meets a requirement the board makes, another one is added on, such as the color of the bricks, the need for windows on the building or a solution to traffic stacking on Harrison Avenue. The lot on which the restaurant is proposed is between Taco Bell and Harrison Avenue.

“You’re alleging some type of prejudice or bias when all they’ve only talked about are site plan issues,” Mr. Duffy said.

Pressed by Mr. Duffy as to whether he was saying the board was prejudiced because of his race, Mr. Chockalingam replied, “I don’t want to.”

Mr. Chockalingam said he felt the board’s vote was pre-determined.

The vote on the application, formally issued by Guddha LLC, was delayed or deadlocked for several months because the board failed to have all five members present for the past four meetings. The outcome was not unexpected, since all of the board members had previously voted, at least once, the same way they voted Thursday at a prior meeting, but those votes never led to a decision because the board lacked five members and never got a three-vote majority one way or the other.

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

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

Mr. Chockalingam, who acquired the lot from the county in a tax default, said the county Department of Public Works did not oppose the project and only one person opposed the project at the public hearing, and that was Richard Israel, who owns the adjacent property that contained a Taco Bell and an office building.

Town planner Rick Hanley said Mr. Chockalingam’s application failed to meet several parking guidelines which the board has the discretion to waive, but has not done so.

And Planning Board member Lyle Wells said his vote was based on the fact that the lot was too small and was teardrop-shaped.

“I think you’re asking for an over-intensification of the lot,” Mr. Wells said.

Mr. Densieski said Mr. Chockalingam spoke with him about the application several times.

“I think I treated you with utmost respect. I don’t think I biased you in any way,” Mr. Densieski said.

Mr. Carey defended his vote, saying the lot is very small and oddly shaped.

“You’re trying to make a building fit on that piece of property that in my opinion, is going to give the appearance of being out of character for this area,” he said. He also cited the fact that the application doesn’t meet all of the parking guidelines.

Officially, Thursday’s vote constitutes a “no action,” rather than a denial, since it failed to garner three votes on a resolution to approve the application, according to Mr. Duffy.

In order to officially reject the application, the board will have to take up a separate resolution to reject the project, and then approve that resolution, he said.

The Planning Board will likely do that at its next meeting, but in the interim, the applicant also can make changes to try and meet the concerns of the board.