10/24/14 3:00pm
10/24/2014 3:00 PM
Dieter Von Lehsten, the co-chair of Southampton Town's Sustainability Committee, at Riverhead Town Hall on Thursday. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

Dieter Von Lehsten, the co-chair of Southampton Town’s Sustainability Committee, at Riverhead Town Hall on Thursday. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

The Town Board appears split on a plastic shopping bag ban in Riverhead Town — last pitched to the board in May of this year — which was discussed in town hall last Thursday, and could be subject to an inter-municipal agreement with other towns and villages in the area.

Dieter Von Lehsten, the co-chair of Southampton Town’s Sustainability Committee, spoke at the work session to try and convince Riverhead to ban single use plastic shopping bags, something Southampton Town is considering and Southampton Village and East Hampton Village have done.

In May, members of the East End Supervisor’s Association said that they were aiming to pass an East End-wide plastic bag ban by Earth Day of 2015. Mr. Von Lehsten has since been making the rounds to East End towns and villages, trying to convince them to enact the ban.


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Riverhead Councilman John Dunleavy and Mr. Wooten said they both support the plastic bag ban, while Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said she wants to have a public hearing before deciding.

“Plastic bags are hurting our ecology,” Mr. Dunleavy said. “They don’t disintegrate.”

He said three large box stores in town — BJ’s Warehouse, Costco and Aldi — now ban plastic bags.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said that he’s already getting calls from the New York State Supermarket Retailers Association asking whether Riverhead plans to ban plastic shopping bags.

The supervisor believes there will be a lawsuit if the bag ban is enacted.

Mr. Von Lehsten said there has been no lawsuits filed against Southampton Village and East Hampton Village, which both adopted the ban in 2011.

“They don’t have the level of retailers that Riverhead does,” Mr. Walter said, alluding to the large national chain stores on Route 58. ”The lawsuit is going to happen.”

He suggested the five East End towns start a defense fund to pay the cost of any legal fees associated with a lawsuit challenging the plastic bags.

He feels the ban should be done on a county level, and not by individual towns.

“The single largest consumer item globally are single used plastic bags,” Mr. Von Lehsten said, quoting from various scientific studies. “We are using, by the lowest estimates, 500 billion to  one trillion bags annually.  That is a lot of plastic bags. And considering that these things never totally disintegrate, it is a gigantic environmental and health problem for us.”

He said the country goes through over 100 billion bags annually, and Southampton Town, uses 23 million bags annually.

“Only four to seven percent are recycled, and the rest goes into landfills or the ocean,” he said.

10/22/14 8:00pm
10/22/2014 8:00 PM
A six-mile stretch of Main Road could be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The corridor includes Aquebogue’s Old Steeple Church, built in 1862 and designed by a farmer with no architectural experience, as well as Aquebogue Cemetery, which dates back to 1755 and contains the graves of numerous Revolutionary War soldiers. (Credit: Andrew Lepre)

A six-mile stretch of Main Road could be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The corridor includes Aquebogue’s Old Steeple Church, built in 1862 and designed by a farmer with no architectural experience, as well as Aquebogue Cemetery, which dates back to 1755 and contains the graves of numerous Revolutionary War soldiers. (Credit: Andrew Lepre)

Four of the five Riverhead Town Board members have signed a letter asking the town’s Landmarks Preservation Commission and the state Office of Parks and Recreation to withdraw the town’s application for a proposed National Register Historic District along Main Road in Aquebogue, Jamesport and Laurel, according to Councilman George Gabrielsen.  (more…)

10/13/14 4:00pm
10/13/2014 4:00 PM
The Second Street firehouse was obtained by Riverhead Town in 2011 in a land swap with the Riverhead Fire District. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch file)

The Second Street firehouse was obtained by Riverhead Town in 2011 in a land swap with the Riverhead Fire District. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch file)

Although a proposal to rezone the Second Street firehouse building was approved unanimously, board members debated whether they should proceed with selling the building to Suffolk Theater owner Bob Castaldi, or whether they should issue a new request for proposals now that they’ve rezoned the property. (more…)

10/11/14 12:00pm
10/11/2014 12:00 PM
Lawmakers are trying to grapple with the legal issues surrounding flyboarding and other similar water sports. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Lawmakers are trying to grapple with the legal issues surrounding flyboarding and other similar water sports. (Credit: Paul Squire)

The pros and cons of flyboarding were debated during Tuesday’s Riverhead Town Board meeting, at which a proposal to set new regulations for the relatively up-and-coming activity was the subject of a public hearing.

Flyboarding involves being thrust into the air by water-propelled jetpacks that are attached to people’s feet and powered by a jet ski tethered to the device. (more…)

09/25/14 12:00pm
09/25/2014 12:00 PM
Code enforcement officer Richard Downs goes through some of the files stored in metal cabinets inside the department's office. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Code enforcement officer Richard Downs goes through some of the files stored in metal cabinets inside the department’s office. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Inside the metal filing cabinets stacked against the wall in Riverhead Town’s tiny code enforcement office are dozens of manila folders, each marked with a property address and filled with legal documents, site plans and notes.

The town attorney’s office is home to dozens more filing cabinets filled with cases; code enforcement doesn’t have room for them all, nor the room for the handful of new complaints that pour into the office each week.  (more…)

09/18/14 1:19pm
09/18/2014 1:19 PM
The Second Street firehouse was obtained by Riverhead in 2011 in a land swap with the Riverhead Fire District. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch file)

The Second Street firehouse was obtained by Riverhead in 2011 in a land swap with the Riverhead Fire District. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch file)

Only one member of the public spoke at a public hearing Tuesday about a proposal to rezone the town-owned Second Street firehouse to a more business-friendly zone — a rezoning sought by Suffolk Theater owner Bob Castaldi as a condition of his proposal to buy the building from the town for $500,000.  (more…)

09/16/14 1:44pm
09/16/2014 1:44 PM
A stop work order was issued last month for illegal land clearing on Ostrander Avenue. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

A stop work order was issued last month for illegal land clearing on Ostrander Avenue. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

Riverhead Town’s building department has slapped a stop work order on the development of a new doctor’s office on Ostrander Avenue, where town officials say land clearing was being done prior to site plan approval.

(more…)