03/28/14 10:56am
03/28/2014 10:56 AM
COURTESY PHOTO | People skydiving in a vertical wind tunnel. Skydive Long Island is looking to build a new indoor skydiving facility in Calverton.

COURTESY PHOTO | People skydiving in a vertical wind tunnel. Skydive Long Island is looking to build a new indoor skydiving facility in Calverton.

A facility that plans to be taking the ‘sky’ out of ‘skydiving’ got an OK from the town’s zoning board of appeals last week, and will be moving forward with a proposed indoor sky diving facility — essentially a vertical wind tunnel — at the Enterprise Park at Calverton.

(more…)

01/23/14 9:07pm
01/23/2014 9:07 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | A concept map of the facility shows the layout of where patients would sleep on site.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | A concept map of the facility shows the layout of where patients would sleep on site. Developers said they’d need zoning relief for housing and evaluation, making up 36 percent of the site.

At the request of the developers, a Zoning Board of Appeals decision on zoning exemptions for a proposed $10 million addiction research and treatment facility at the Enterprise Park at Calverton has been pushed back to next month. (more…)

10/10/13 12:00pm
10/10/2013 12:00 PM
FILE PHOTO | Town officials have said the digital sign at the Valero station in Jamesport violates historic district codes.

FILE PHOTO | Town officials have said the digital sign at the Valero station in Jamesport violates historic district codes.

Four years after Riverhead Town took the owners of a Jamesport gas station to court over its illuminated sign, the business owners are in the process of taking a new approach to try and settle the score. Though a Thursday night meeting will determine when exactly the next step will be.

Back in 2009, the town took the owners of the Valero gas station on Main Road and South Jamesport Avenue to court over an electronic sign showing gas prices.

Town officials said at the time that internally illuminated signs are not permitted under town code in the Village Center zone, where the gas station is located, and claimed the sign was erected illegally.

Now, four years later, the sign is still there and that case is still pending in state Supreme Court.

Related Op-Ed: FOILs on Valero case kept in the dark

But now, the owners of the gas station are trying a different approach, and have applied to the town Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance to allow them to replace the illuminated sign with an LED illuminated sign at the same location. The applicant, 801F Realty Corp, is seeking the change under a section of the Town Code that allows a use that doesn’t conform to zoning to be changed to another nonconforming use by the ZBA. They also are requesting a variance to allow a shed on the property to be less than the required 10 feet from the side yard property line.

While the application is scheduled for a hearing on Thursday night’s meeting, which starts at 7 p.m., the applicant has already requested that the hearing be moved to the Nov. 14 ZBA meeting, which is two meetings away.

That adjournment, if granted, would also assure that the application to legalize the use is still pending before 801F Realty’s next scheduled court appearance in the lawsuit brought by the town. That court date is scheduled for Nov. 13 before state Supreme Court Judge Jeffrey Spinner.

Kenneth Robinson, an attorney for the applicant, said in a letter to the town that the reason they requested the adjournment to Nov. 14 is because the principal of 801F Realty Corp, Eugene Buccellato, died two weeks ago and the company is in a transition process. Mr. Buccellato was responsible for the Jamesport location and was the one who signed the ZBA application on 801F Realty Corp’s behalf, Mr. Robinson wrote.

In addition, he said the person who prepared the plans for the application, Michael Papsidero, will not be available on Oct. 10.

Bill Duffy, the assistant town attorney who handles planning issues, said Monday that he has instructed the planning department not to automatically grant the adjournment, and to allow the ZBA members to discuss it and make a decision on the request at Thursday’s meeting.

10/07/13 11:56am
10/07/2013 11:56 AM
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 separates Foxwood Village and the Shops at Riverhead.

Foxwood Village residents will hold a rally along Route 58 Tuesday to speak out against the developers of the Shops at Riverhead shopping center being built next to the retirement community.

Residents have been up in arms ever since the developers clear-cut the entire property, which stretches north from Route 58, even on land for which there are no current plans to build.

Just a small wooden fence now divides the shopping center property and Foxwood homes. Residents have also complained about the fence.

The developers had been given a deadline by the town by which to submit new plans for a proposed buffer separating the properties, and although they did file new plans by the town’s deadline, town attorneys had said those plans were insufficient.

The town is threatening to revoke the building permits for the project, which will feature a Costco Wholesale as its anchor store.

“They have just stalled the town with extension after extension and they have not kept their promise to make it right,” resident Paul Spina said as the reason for the rally along Route 58. ”We will be asking that they stop stalling and improve both the berm and the fence.”

The event will run from 10 a.m. to noon.

mwhite@timesreview.com

09/29/13 5:00pm
09/29/2013 5:00 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | New Beginnings Brendan House on Sound Avenue in Riverhead.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | New Beginnings Brendan House on Sound Avenue in Riverhead.

Brendan House, the proposed community residence for people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries and need round-the-clock care, was granted town approval this week to house eight people, instead of the previously-approved four.

The New Beginnings Community Center in Medford, a nonprofit care group, is building the facility in an former farm house at 4079 Sound Avenue in Riverhead.

In April, the group received a favorable town Zoning Board of Appeals ruling that a “traumatic brain injury facility with a second residence for the ‘house parent’” is considered a permitted use in the Agricultural Protection Zone, in which the house is located.

The approval allowed the facility to house four residents.

But New Beginnings vice president Steve Scerri told the ZBA on Thursday that when the group went for the building permits for the project, employees from the building department and the county health department asked why the group was only using four bedrooms when there are other bedrooms in the house.

“They said that if we got approval from you guys, they would be fine with giving us approval for extra bedrooms,” Mr. Scerri told the ZBA on Thursday.

The aides that will work at the home will not stay overnight, he said.

The house mother will be in a separate house on the property.

With no one speaking in opposition, ZBA  members approved the request Thursday by a 4-0 vote, with one member absent.

Michael Hubbard, a Riverhead teenager who suffered severe brain damage in the aftermath of being badly burned by an exploding gel candle in his backyard in May, 2011, is expected to be one of the residents of Brendan House.

New Beginnings has been holding a number of fundraisers for the Brendan House and another one is scheduled for this Sunday, Sept. 29, at noon, at the site on Sound Avenue across from Reeve Farm.

The event is being billed as “country fair” and will feature things like pig races, duck races and food and games.

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

08/23/13 3:00pm
08/23/2013 3:00 PM
TIM GANNON PHOTO | The Saber Riverhead project is under construction on land just east of Riverhead Raceway on Route 58.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | The Saber Riverhead project is under construction on land just east of Riverhead Raceway on Route 58.

Just as it was revealed that a Five Guys Burgers and Fries would be coming to Riverhead, issues arose during a Planning Board meeting last week about a promised sound wall at the Route 58 shopping center the popular burger joint will call home.

The main issue with the wall is that — well, so far there is no wall.

Back in October, Saber Riverhead, developer of the 122,000-square-foot shopping center being built on the south side of Route 58, agreed to build a sound wall to prevent construction noise from disturbing residents at the nearby Glenwood Village senior community.

That concession came at the insistence of Glenwood Village owner Brian Stark and several residents , and was part of the project’s site plan approval.

The agreed-upon wall was to cover a 200-foot stretch along the eastern part of Saber’s property and would be about 10- to 12 feet high, according to Saber Riverhead attorney Charles Cuddy of Riverhead.

But 10 months later, with the stores are already under construction, the wall still hasn’t been built.

“If you remember the conversation we had [in October], we wanted the wall up so the neighbors wouldn’t have to live through all this noise,” Planning Board member Ed Densieski told Rick Decola, a representative of developer Martin Berger.

“I was ready with the wall,” Mr. Decola responded. “I was all set to go.”

He said it was Mr. Stark who halted the process, because he wanted a different-looking fence to go up instead.

“What is his official capacity in this?” Mr. Densieski asked.

Planning Board officials then lectured Mr. Decola that it’s the board that dictates the wall, not a neighbor, such as Mr. Stark.

Mr. Decola and Mr. Cuddy explained that the neighbors for whom the wall is being built aren’t complaining about the delay and neither is Mr. Stark.

Mr. Stark, who did not attend the Planning Board meeting, confirmed in a later interview that he had asked for the new design, figuring that it was better to do the wall right, at the expense of a little more time.

“The design we wanted was like a pre-cast fence,” he said. “It was a little nicer aesthetically.”

Mr. Stark also confirmed he hasn’t heard complaints from his residents about noise from the construction of the new shopping center.

“In fact, some residents say the buildings that have gone up have actually helped mitigate noise from the racetrack on Saturday nights,” he said.

Mr. Decola said the wall will be the same dimensions as agreed to in October, but will have a different look.

Mr. Stark said today, Friday, that workers have started on a berm but he didn’t expect the wall to built until September.

Though the Planning Board members voiced concern that the change in the wall’s design was made without their input, they eventually voted to approve an amended site plan for Saber Riverhead by a vote of 4-0, with board member Lyle Wells absent.

The major change to the site plan involved adding the Five Guys restaurant, which will be  located near the front of the shopping center, near a Starbucks. Dick’s Sporting Goods, Christmas Tree Shops, Buffalo Wild Wings, Aldi and Five Below will all be located toward the back.

Buffalo Wild Wings is expected to open in October, with Dick’s and Christmas Tree Shops following in November, Mr. Decola said.

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