03/28/12 6:00pm
03/28/2012 6:00 PM

The $25 fee businesses must pay for alarm system permits will be a thing of the past under a proposal by Supervisor Sean Walter, but businesses still will be required to register all alarm systems with the police.

Mr. Walter asked town attorney Bob Kozakiewicz to draw up a proposed local law to eliminate the fee at last Thursday’s public Town Board work session.

“I think we made a mistake that we didn’t realize we made when we said we were going to charge $25 for the fee for the alarm system registration,” Mr. Walter told Mr. Kozakiewicz during the meeting.

A number of business owners were not happy about the fee.

“We won’t charge the $25 fee but you still have to register your alarms because people’s lives are at stake when these fire alarms go off,” Mr. Walter said.

Because the fee is included in the town code, a public hearing, which also requires a two-week public hearing notice, must occur first. That hearing had not yet been scheduled. The town required the permit in response to a large number of false alarms.

Councilmembers George Gabrielsen and Jodi Giglio supported elimination of the fee, while Councilman John Dunleavy was concerned about how the town would pay for the registration program. Councilman Jim Wooten was absent for this discussion.
The fee has actually been on the books for many years but wasn’t enforced until a couple of weeks ago, when town police sent a letter to all business owners telling them they needed to register their alarms and pay a $25 fee to do so, along with a $10 annual renewal fee. The letter also spoke of fines for excessive false alarms. Mr. Walter said the fines will remain the same and the police department will be instructed not to deposit any checks it has already received for the $25 fee.

Police Chief David Hegemiller, whose department issued the letter, said this week he had not yet heard of plans to eliminate the fees.

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06/30/11 4:32am
06/30/2011 4:32 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A sign on Route 25 in Calverton indicates the road is part of a bicycle path.

“Right now, you could never get me to ride a bike on Sound Avenue,” said Riverhead Highway Superintendent George Woodson.
He said the speed of the drivers on that road and the narrowness of its shoulders contribute to his decision.

But the chairman of the East End Transportation Council hopes to convince Riverhead and other East End towns to adopt practices that would make Sound Avenue — and many other streets — a lot friendlier for bike riders.

Tom Neely, the council’s chair, is urging towns to adopt the “complete streets” program, which aims to make all streets better able to accommodate a multitude of users, including cars, public transportation, cyclists and pedestrians.

“The complete streets concept essentially says that when you’re looking at roadway and roadway-related improvements, you should try to accommodate not only cars and trucks, but also public transit, pedestrians, bicyclists or anyone who may want to use the transportation network,” Mr. Neely said. He admitted that it’s a “unique challenge” to do this in more rural areas where public transportation is less cost effective than it is in big cities.

He said statistics show that 48 percent of motor vehicle accident fatalities happen on local streets, not major highways, and that 12 percent of those involve bikes or pedestrians.

One suggestion is to shrink the driving portion of the roads and increase the size of the road shoulder.

Mr. Woodson said roads where drivers frequently exceed the speed limit are more worn out than roads where speed limits are usually observed.

He suggested narrowing Sound Avenue’s 12-foot-wide travel lanes to 10 feet, the minimum allowed by law. This would both slow down traffic and provide wider and safer shoulders for bikers and pedestrians.

He said one lane on Mill Road is 16 feet wide and should be reduced to 10.

The town has about $3 million in road infrastructure grant money that can be used for such road improvements, according to community development director Chris Kempner, who said the funds came from the Federal Recovery Act, she said.
Hotel gets to spread out fee.

The Town Board informally agreed last Thursday to allow the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center, formerly known as Atlantis Marine World, to spread out a $183,000 sewer connection fee in four segments, paying three installments of $50,000 each covering the balance with the final payment. The new hotel and exhibition center will be built in four phases and each will have its own certificate of occupancy. An opening date of July 1 has already been advertised for its butterflies and birds exhibit, which will feature more than 30 species of butterflies and 20 different types of birds.

“They are under tremendous pressure to acquire a temporary certificate of occupancy and the main thing that seems to be holding it up is the sewer connection fee,” town building inspector Sharon Klos told Town Board members last Thursday.
In addition to the exhibition center, the complex also will feature a new 100-room Hyatt Place hotel and a grand ballroom that can accommodate up to 450 people.

“We’re moving heaven and earth to do everything we can on Main Street and this is one of those things that we have to do,” Supervisor Sean Walter said in agreeing to spread out the fee.

“As soon as we get people staying in the hotel rooms, the sooner we get the foot traffic up and down Main Street to support our businesses,” Councilman Jodi Giglio added.

Mardi Gras is coming

Town officials released details this week about the Mardi Gras festival scheduled for Aug. 6 in downtown Riverhead. Organized by the Business Improvement District, the event will run from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. and will feature New Orleans style-music, a parade down Main Street, bands, stilt walkers, face painters and Cajun food. Local restaurants will be coached by Cajun cooks from New Orleans and will offer dishes like jambalaya, crawfish and “dirty rice,” officials said.

There will be two stages for the scheduled performers, which include the Lost Bayou Ramblers, Dikki Du and his Zydeco Crewe, the Jambalaya Brass Band, the Who Dat Loungers, Gene Casey & the Lone Sharks, Miss Tess and the Bon Ton Parade, The Buzzards and local blues artist Tommy Keys.

BID members hope to make the Mardi Gras festival an annual event

“The Mardi Gras Festival will be another family-friendly, fun event that will bring excitement to our downtown,” Mr. Walter said in a press release.

The Mardi Gras parade, led by the Stilt Band, will start at noon at the Suffolk County Historical Society and march east to McDermott Avenue. Officials said people are encouraged to march with their dogs. The press release made no mention of bead-throwing.

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06/15/11 10:59am
06/15/2011 10:59 AM

With Route 25A in Wading River now the site of several large commercial development proposals, the Town Board plans to interview a consultant who worked on a zoning study for Route 25A in Brookhaven Town with an eye towards possibly having a similar study done in Wading River.

Supervisor Sean Walter said the board would interview Frank Fish of BFJ Planning in a closed executive session at an upcoming meeting because the discussion is likely to revolve around contractual issues.

Wading River residents and members of the Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition advocacy group have been calling for the study, and a moratorium on current development while the study is under way, for several months.

The coalition has already sued the town over one project, the proposed expansion of the clubhouse at Great Rock Golf Club.
The board met with Mr. Fish in a public session May 6. Mr. Walter said the board has agreed only to consider studying the Route 25 corridor at this time, rather than other areas of the town as well, as had been discussed May 6. He said no decision has been made yet as to whether a moratorium would be needed, should the board move forward with the study.

BID events approved

Seven free-admission events planned by the downtown Riverhead Business Improvement District management association this summer were approved by the Town Board Tuesday. They include a Mardi Gras Festival on Aug. 6; an Oldies Show on July 16; Music Idol Night on July 30; a Country and Western Festival on Aug. 27; an antique sale which already occurred on June 4; the July 4th concerts and fireworks; and the Thursday night Classic Car Cruise Nights, which now have live music.

The Vail-Leavitt Music Hall, which had traditionally held the Blues Festival in mid July, opted not to do so this year, but filed applications for events that coincided with the Aug. 6 and July 16 BID events, and which were technically filed before the BID events.

Town officials say the BID had discussed their events publicly prior to the Vail-Leavitt applications being filed and had included them in their annual budget, which was approved by the Town Board earlier this year. Vail-Leavitt president Bob Barta told the News-Review recently that the group would consider legal action if the town didn’t approve their applications.

Burman in default

The Town Board has voted to use $70,000 of the $3 million letter of credit filed by Calverton Enterprise Park developer Jan Burman to hire engineers to begin completing the road and infrastructure work the town says Mr. Burman and his company were required to do as a condition of their subdivision approval.

The town Planning Board has recommended the Town Board call Mr. Burman’s company in default on two prior occasions, including once in February, but this is the first time the Town Board has done so.

“Every time we go to do it, he paves a little bit and then doesn’t finish it,” Mr. said.

Free dog adoption on Saturday

The town’s animal shelter will be holding an adoption fair Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at which time the fees for adopting a dog will be waived.

The town normally charges a $25 adoption fee and an additional $20 fee if the dog needs shots. Councilman Jim Wooten said the move is an attempt to get the shelter some publicity. He said there are about 15 dogs in the shelter now.

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05/05/11 7:06am
05/05/2011 7:06 AM

A proposal to allow only right turns from Riverhead’s Kroemer Avenue onto Route 58 met with some opposition during a public hearing Tuesday in Town Hall. Some residents said traffic leaving Riverhead Raceway would be negatively impacted by the plan.

The Suffolk County Department of Public Works is recommending the changes in conjunction with plans for a Super Walmart store on property between Applebee’s and the state highway yard on the north side of Route 58.

According DPW chief engineer Bill Hillman, the traffic plan for Walmart calls for cars to enter and leave via the roadway across from Kroemer Avenue that currently serves as an entrance for Applebee’s restaurant.

The traffic plan would see southbound cars exiting onto Route 58 in two right-turn lanes and two left-turn lanes. Because of this flow of cars, Mr. Hillman said, it would no longer be feasible to allow northbound traffic on Kroemer Avenue to make a left turn onto Route 58 or head straight across into the Applebee’s entrance.

“Suffolk County has made a $12 million investment in improving the capacity of Route 58,” Mr. Hillman said, referring to the widening of Route 58 undertaken last year. He added that bad decisions could negate those improvements and said relatively few cars enter Route 58 from Kroemer Avenue.

But resident Sal Mastropaolo said traffic leaving Carl’s Equipment and Riverhead Raceway is going to want to head west, which it can currently do by using Kroemer Avenue, where there’s a traffic light. If those cars try to turn left onto Route 58 from the raceway entrance, it could be dangerous, he said.

Ken LaBohner of Aquebogue had similar concerns. “I think we ought to send this back to the engineers,” he said.

Sandra Mott of Riverhead feared residents would get into accidents learning the new system.

Mr. Hillman said there would be a concrete median guiding traffic into right turns from Kroemer, minimizing any safety hazards.

05/05/11 7:02am

Since Riverhead Town voted to allow accessory apartments in residential zones in early 2008, there haven’t been too many takers. (At least not on the books.)

But there are a lot of people who favor allowing apartments even in areas where they aren’t currently permitted, it seems.

About 78 residents have signed a petition in favor of allowing accessory apartments in the Industrial C zone, where residential uses are currently prohibited.

The Town Board held a public hearing two weeks ago on a proposal to allow accessory apartments in five commercial zoning categories where some residential use is currently permitted: Hamlet Residential, Riverfront Corridor, Commercial/Residential Campus, Rural Corridor and Hamlet Center.

But the only person who spoke at that hearing was an attorney representing an elderly Calverton couple who purchased a house with an upstairs apartment in the Industrial C zone on Edwards Avenue, which they said is permitted now because it existed before zoning. The petition only asks only that accessory apartments be allowed in similar residences, which are non-conforming uses in the Industrial C district that existed before zoning.

Town building department head Leroy Barnes said the town has granted only about 23 accessory apartments permits since the law was passed in 2008. At that time, the town hoped that allowing legal accessory apartments would increase the available stock of affordable housing, allow seniors to rent part of their homes and not have to move and encourage people with illegal apartments to legalize them.