09/19/13 6:05pm
09/19/2013 6:05 PM
TIM GANNON PHOTO | The northern part of the Costco property off Route 58 in Riverhead.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | The northern part of the Costco property off Route 58 in Riverhead.

The developers of The Shops at Riverhead shopping center on Route 58 will have one week to get the Riverhead Town Planning Board corrected site elevations for a berm the developers are proposing to build along the northern boundary of their property, abutting the Foxwood Village retirement community.

If the corrected plans are not in by Sept. 26, the town will revoke the building permit for the project, town officials said.

Bill Duffy, the attorney to the Planning Board, said the town’s consulting engineer believes the ground elevations submitted by the developers are incorrect.

“The berm was supposed to be high to block the view’ of the shopping center from neighboring residents, Mr. Duffy said at Thursday’s Planning Board meeting.

Based on the elevations submitted by the application, he said, “That’s not necessarily going to happen.”

The developers were supposed to get the new information to the Planning Board by tomorrow, but the board decided to give them more time.

Planning Board member Ed Densieski suggested a drop-dead deadline “to get the corrected information in, and issue a stop-work order if they don’t.”

“Based on the fact they submitted falsified information,” he said.

Mr. Duffy said the town would have to first revoke the building permit before it could issue a stop-work order.

The board directed Mr. Duffy to send a letter to the developers — Heritage-Riverhead Retail Developers — stating that if the corrected information is not submitted by Sept. 26, the town will revoke the building permit.

Clear-cutting of trees at the Shops at Riverhead, which will contain a Costco Wholesale as its anchor store, has angered residents of the neighboring Foxwood community to the north and Millbrook Community to the east.

They’ve also complained that fencing dividing the properties is inadequate.

Foxwood Village president Peter Mastropolo recently hired a land surveyor, John Ehlers, to review the approved plans for the Shops at Riverhead, and determined the elevations showing the natural topography of the land where a berm is proposed along the northern property line were incorrect.

The town planning department now agrees with that assessment.

Planning director Rick Hanley said the elevations, which show how high above sea leave the land is, before the development began, showed only the easternmost portion of the berm area, which had the highest elevation.

Mr. Hanley said the Planning Board was led to believe that this was the elevation for the entire site when it approved the site plan.

Peter Danowski, the attorney for the applicant, was not at Thursday’s Planning Board meeting, but he discussed the berm issue during an interview on Wednesday in response to comments Supervisor Sean Walter had made about the berm at a Town Board meeting the day before.

“The Ehlers elevation shots at the property line are not terribly inconsistent with what’s on our plans,” Mr. Danowski said on Wednesday.

“In fact, I would say they are consistent.”

Mr. Danowski said Mr. Ehler’s drawings don’t show the landscape plan that the Planning Board approved, which calls for the berm and the planting of evergreen trees along the property line forming a 30-foot buffer.

He said that once that plan is in place, he believes residents will be happy with it.

tgannon@timesreview.com

09/12/13 8:16pm
09/12/2013 8:16 PM
TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO  |  The fence that runs along Foxwood Village and the Shops at Riverhead property lines.

FILE PHOTO | The fence that runs along Foxwood Village and the Costco property line.

After much public opposition, the other half of The Shops at Riverhead developer’s request for variances to Riverhead’s lighting regulations was denied Thursday night by the Zoning Board of Appeals, which had rejected the first half of that application two weeks ago.

The developers of the proposed shopping center, which will feature a Costco Warehouse store with gas pumps in front of it, were previously denied in their request for variances from the town’s “dark skies” lighting code in which they sought permission to install lights in the shopping center parking lot that were 25 feet high instead of the permitted 16 feet.

The applicants said the shopping center would only need 61 light poles instead of 165, if the variance were granted.

Residents from the adjacent Foxwood Village and Millbrook communities, already angry about The Shops at Riverhead having clear-cut all the trees on its property right up to the neighboring property lines, turned out in force at several meetings to urge the ZBA to reject the lighting variance, which the ZBA did at their its meeting.

The other half of the ZBA variance request, which was not rejected at the last meeting and was instead held over to Thursday night’s meeting, called for more lighting than is permitted under the canopy covering the planned gas pumps at Costco.

The pumps have already been approved.

The proposed lights would be LED lights, which are brighter and were intended to increase security at the pumps at night, according to Peter Danowski, the attorney for the applicant.

While that request didn’t meet as much opposition as the request for the taller — thus brighter — light poles did, it still met with some opposition, and on Thursday, the ZBA unanimously voted it down.

Fred McLaughlin, the chairman of the ZBA, assured the large crowd of Foxwood and Millbrook residents who were in attendance Thursday that their concerns had been heard, and that issues that have been brought up, like dust from the construction site, were issues for other town agencies to take up.

As a result, no one other than the applicant spoke, and the ZBA went straight to the vote on the request.

tgannon@timesreview.com

09/04/13 3:00pm
09/04/2013 3:00 PM
TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO  |  The fence that runs along Foxwood Village and the Shops at Riverhead property lines.

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | The fence that runs along Foxwood Village and the Shops at Riverhead property lines just north of Route 58 in Riverhead.

While Riverhead Councilman John Dunleavy has been able to avoid most of the controversy in the three-way primary for two Republican council nominations this fall, that hasn’t been the case in the past week, where he’s managed to anger some of his Foxwood Village neighbors regarding answers to questions at a recent candidate debate.

John Dunleavy of Riverhead

John Dunleavy

Those neighbors say Mr. Dunleavy was the president of the Foxwood Village Homeowners Association for two years while The Shops at Riverhead application was pending with the town, and that he should have taken a more active role in monitoring the development of the proposed shopping center next to their homes.

The Shops at Riverhead, which will feature a Costco as its anchor store, was first proposed in 2007. The developer recently cleared the trees up to the Foxwood Village property line, angering residents there.

“He was the president [of the HOA] at the time the scoping meeting was held on this development and he knew everything was coming down the pike and never told us,” said Marylee Feldman, the current Foxwood Village HOA president told the News-Review. “He didn’t protect us.”

“She doesn’t know what she’s talking about,” Mr. Dunleavy responded.

Mr. Dunleavy said the HOA at Foxwood Village deals only with providing recreation for the residents of the community there, and the president also may relay concerns some residents have to the retirement community’s owners.

“The homeowners association is only a recreation association,” Mr. Dunleavy said. “It has nothing to do with the running of Foxwood Village.”

Not so, Ms. Feldman said.

“All things representing the homeowners are taken up with that group,” Ms. Feldman said.

Paul Spina, another Foxwood Village resident, said in an interview that current bylaws of the Homeowners Association state that the obligation of the HOA “is to safeguard the interests of the members.”

He added, “Apparently Mr. Dunleavy did not take his obligation too seriously if he only considered himself a recreation committee member.”

Mr. Dunleavy’s wife, Marie, said Mr. Dunleavy was asked by the HOA three years ago to talk to the group about town issues and he has done so.

“When they liked what he was saying, it was fine,” Ms. Dunleavy said. “Now, they don’t like what he’s saying, so it’s not fine.”

She said the couple has lived in Foxwood Village retirement community for 13 years and “until this month, there’s never been a political atmosphere here or a problem here.”

She said the residents of Foxwood Village knew all about the Costco development and the pending land clearing.

At the Sept. 16 “Riverhead at a Crossroads” candidate debate at the Suffolk Theatre, Mr. Dunleavy and fellow incumbent Republican council candidate Jodi Giglio were asked if they understood what they were voting for on April 2 when the Town Board voted to approve a clearing permit for the Shops at Riverhead, which abuts Foxwood Village.

The candidates were also asked if they understood the developer had planned to clear 11 or more acres on which there are currently no plans to build anything.

Mr. Dunleavy and Ms. Giglio are in a three-way race with challenger Anthony Coates for the two Republican council nominations, and most of the campaigning thus far had involved Mr. Coates and Ms. Giglio trading barbs.

“The problem I had was this,” Mr. Dunleavy said at the debate. “I belonged to a recreation committee at Foxwoods and they picked a fellow resident to represent the residents of Foxwood. He didn’t really know what was going on. He didn’t ask me any questions. I didn’t want to force his hand. He went to every planning board meeting.”

Mr. Dunleavy, who didn’t identify the resident by name, said the owners of Foxwood Village should have represented the  community at Planning Board meetings about the Shops at Riverhead.

“The recreation committee didn’t want to talk to me at that time because they had this representative going to every meeting,” Mr. Dunleavy continued. “First they wanted an expressway wall, then they wanted a berm, then they wanted a fence.

“They really didn’t know what they wanted.”

Those comments angered Robert Hall, the Foxwood Village resident who’s been attending meetings concerning the Shops at Riverhead development for the past four years.

Mr. Hall was the person Mr. Dunleavy was referring to, Mr. Hall later wrote in a letter to the News-Review.

“He threw Bob Hall under the bus,” Ms. Feldman said Wednesday.

Mr. Hall wrote in his letter to the editor that he wasn’t picked by a committee, he volunteered.

He also said he did seek to contact Mr. Dunleavy in July 2007 and got no response.

Mr. Spina and Ms. Feldman both said the recreation committee that Mr. Dunleavy referred to is not the homeowners association, and only deals with providing recreation for the community and has nothing to do with monitoring planning board meetings.

tgannon@timesreview.com

08/22/13 9:11pm
08/22/2013 9:11 PM
RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | South Jamesport resident Larry Simms stated his concerns about Costco Wholesale's request to install lighting fixtures exceeding illumination levels at Thursday's ZBA hearing Thursday.

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | South Jamesport resident Larry Simms stating his concerns with a request to side-step the town’s dark skies laws at Thursday’s ZBA meeting.

Facing stiff opposition from neighbors and Riverhead civic leaders, the developers behind the Shops at Riverhead project now being built on Route 58 have withdrawn their request to build lights that are taller and brighter than what’s allowed under town code.

“I know there are many people here tonight to discuss the issue,” Peter Danowski, an attorney for the developers, explained at the start of Thursday night’s Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, which drew dozens of residents from neighboring communities already incensed with the future shopping center’s land being clear-cut of all its trees and vegetation.

“We will withdraw the application seeking the height variance with regard to poles,” Mr. Danowski said.

The developers were seeking variances from the town’s dark skies code, which would have allowed lights in the shopping center parking lot that were 25 feet high instead of the permitted 16 feet.

Mr. Danowski explained to ZBA members in July that higher lights would mean fewer light poles would be needed, from 165 to 61.

News of the withdrawn variance elicited a round of applause from neighbors and vocal civic leaders.

But some took to the podium in Town Hall to say they were still concerned about the company’s ongoing request to install lighting fixtures exceeding allowed illumination levels under a canopy at a gas station planned for outside the Costco Wholesale anchor store.

“There is simply nothing to justify a variance in this case,” said Larry Simms of South Jamesport. “I’d like to see [the company] comply.”

Jennifer Hartnagel, a senior environmental advocate at Group for the East End, said the company failed to make an argument for any potential hardship that would justify granting the variance.

“I believe safety was shown as the rationale, but it was not elaborated on at all,” Ms. Hartnagel said. “We fully support dark sky compliance ordinances and there’s no reason to grant this variance.”

Dark skies advocates here and elsewhere in the U.S. and Long Island have worked to support educational and legislative efforts to eliminate light pollution.

The ZBA adjourned the gas pumps request until its Sept. 12 meeting.

ryoung@timesreview.com

08/09/13 8:00am
08/09/2013 8:00 AM
TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Excavation at the site of a future Costco on Route 58 stretches up to neighboring homes in Foxwood Village.

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Excavation at the site of a future Costco on Route 58 stretches up to neighboring homes in Foxwood Village.

The attorney for the controversial Shops at Riverhead, which will include a Costco Wholesale on Route 58, made the Riverhead Zoning Board of Appeals an offer Thursday night.

It went like this: approve the developers’ request for taller, fewer lights in the shopping center’s parking lot, and they’ll add 10 feet to a planned buffer between the stores and neighboring homes.

The developers have already angered residents in the adjacent Foxwood Village and Millbrook mobile home parks by clear-cutting nearly all of the trees from the 41-acre site.

Two weeks ago, their attorney, Peter Danowski, came to the ZBA seeking variances from the town’s lighting code that would allow lights in the shopping center that were 25 feet high instead of the permitted 16 feet.

The company also sought to install lighting fixtures exceeding illumination levels under a canopy at a gas station at the planned Costco Wholesale store.

Mr. Danowski said higher lights would enable them to reduce the number of light poles needed from 165 to 61. He said this would produce the same amount of lights and would be an improvement aesthetically and in terms of safety, because less cars would crash into light poles.

Neighbors, meanwhile, have told both the ZBA and the town Planning Board that the current fence dividing the land from neighbors, as well as a proposed vegetative buffer, are not sufficient.

Mr. Danowski’s offer did not change anyone’s mind in the audience Thursday, as numerous speakers urged the ZBA to reject the proposal for taller lights.

“We really feel you should say no to this application,” said Dominique Mendez of the Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition .

She and other speakers said they believe the applicant’s real motivation for building fewer light poles is simply to save money.

Residents also didn’t buy the logic that fewer poles are needed so drivers won’t crash into them.

“If people hit the poles, it’s because they can’t drive,” said Millbrook resident Diane Barba.

Marylee Feldman presented a petition with more than 200 signatures of residents urging the ZBA to reject Shops at Riverhead’s variance request.

Milbrook resident Chris Knopp asked that the developer put a 12- to 14-foot concrete fence up to shield neighbors from the shopping center.

He also said that Millbrook residents will likely get flooded in heaving rain storms because they are below the grade of the shopping center.

Another Millbrook resident said that since the trees were cleared, they get light and noise from Route 58 coming into their homes.

Shops at Riverhead had received approval from the town Planning Board to clear cut the site, agreeing with the developers that this was needed so they would not have to disturb the area twice if they decided to expand the site in the future, and also saying that it enabled them to avoid importing or exporting material from the site.

While the trees were cleared right to the Foxwoods property line, Shops at Riverhead plans to build a 30-foot vegetative buffer to shield the homes at Foxwood Village from the development.

Mr. Danowski said Thursday that if the ZBA approved the variance on the lighting poles, the developer will build a 40-foot buffer with evergreen trees.

The ZBA took no action on the application and adjourned it to the Aug. 22 meeting, which starts at 7 p.m.

tgannon@timesreview.com

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.

tgannon@timesreview.com

04/02/13 10:00am
04/02/2013 10:00 AM
COSTCO COURTESY DRAWING

COSTCO COURTESY DRAWING

The Riverhead Town Board is expected to grant a land-clearing permit today to the developers of a Route 58 shopping center that will feature a Costco wholesale store.

The 271,000-square-foot shopping center, called The Shops at Riverhead, would be the third-large shopping center to have begun construction in the past few months on the west end of Route 58. The applicant has said the project will be a “balanced cut and fill,” meaning that it will neither import nor export soil or sand for the project.

The Shops at Riverhead will be built on a 40-acre property that once housed Hazeltine, a defense manufacturer, and is owned by Heritage-Riverhead Retail Developers, which is a Connecticut company.

The developers haven’t identified any other tenants beside Costco, but they did convince the Town Board to change the zoning at the site to allow gas pumps at the Costco store back in early 2010.

The developers of this project agreed in 2012 to move the stores further away from homes in the nearby Foxwood Village development.

Across the street from it, another development called Saber Riverhead has already begun ground clearing for a 122,000-square-foot shopping center just east of Riverhead Raceway. It is slated to include Dick’s Sporting Goods, Christmas Tree Shops store, Buffalo Wild Wings and

a Starbucks store, according to the applicant, Martin Berger.

That project received site plan approval from the town Planning Board in November and permission for an importation/grading permit from the Town Board on Feb. 5. That permit allows for the importation of 200 cubic yards of soils in connection with the project.

The Town Board on March 5 granted an excavation permit to Headriver LLC — which is building a 170,000-square-foot Walmart just west of Applebee’s — that authorizes the importation of 4,615 cubic yard of soil and the exportation of 4,075 cubic yards of soil.

The Riverhead Town Board meeting starts at 2 p.m. Check back at riverheadnewsreview.com for live coverage of the meeting.

tgannon@timesreview.com

09/21/12 10:00am
09/21/2012 10:00 AM
Dick's, Route 58, Riverhead

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | The Dick’s Sporting Good store in Lake Grove.

Some residents of Glenwood Village are concerned that a new shopping center proposed by their homes may create a noise problem.

But the building’s applicant says the developers plan to build a berm with landscaping atop the berm, to block the noise.

The residents, in turn, want a wall to prevent sound.

That application is proposed by Saber Riverhead LLC of Armonk, which is headed by Martin Berger.

It calls for a 121,700-square-foot shopping center expected to include tenants such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Christmas Tree Shops, ALDI, Buffalo Wild Wings, Starbucks and Five Below.

The project is proposed for land on the south side of Route 58, just east of Riverhead Raceway.

It also is directly across the street from another proposed shopping center called The Shops at Riverhead. That one totals 271,800 square feet and would include a 151,000-square-foot Costco warehouse store as its anchor, along with a gas fueling station associated with the Costco.

The Riverhead Town Planning Board reviewed both applications at its meeting Thursday.

Glen Cerrato, Chris Zimmermann and Vincent Ewart, all of whom live in Glenwood Village, a senior community that abuts Saber Riverhead’s 13-acre property, all voiced concerns about noise.

“My concern is noise mitigation,” Mr. Cerrato said. “People that live at Glenwood are elderly and they’re entitled, I believe by law, to the right of quiet enjoyment. Stop & Shop, we all know, has been a horror for the people who live close to it.”

The new Stop & Shop store on Route 58, which was built a few years ago, also abuts Glenwood, and residents say they frequently hear noise from trucks unloading there.

The board took no formal action on the proposal.

The Shops at Riverhead attorney, Peter Danowski, asked if the Planning Board could prepare a resolution to approve that developer’s application at the next formal meeting on Oct. 4, which would allow the developers to break ground this fall.

Planners were non-committal on that request.

“As soon as it’s ready, we’re going to vote,” Mr. Densieski said.

Read more in the Sept. 27 News-Review newspaper.

tgannon@timesreview.com