03/28/14 12:06pm
03/28/2014 12:06 PM
Riverhead resident Doug Wald speaks before the ZBA meeting Thursday night supporting an application for Farm Country Kitchen. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

Riverhead resident Doug Wald speaks before the ZBA meeting Thursday night supporting an application for Farm Country Kitchen. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

Compliments to the chef.

At least that was the theme of Thursday night’s Zoning Board of Appeals hearing, as speakers overwhelmingly supported an application for Farm Country Kitchen to have an off-site parking lot and other variances needed to continue operating at its riverfront site on West Main Street.


03/28/14 10:56am
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.


03/14/14 6:00am
03/14/2014 6:00 AM

Seven Republicans, two Conservatives, and a Blank walk into Riverhead Town Hall …

That might sound like the beginning of a bad joke to some, but after the most recent Planning Board appointment, it’s the actual political makeup of Riverhead Town’s planning and zoning boards.

And that’s no joke. (more…)

03/01/14 10:00am
03/01/2014 10:00 AM
NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Town Hall on Howell Avenue.

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Town Hall on Howell Avenue.

There’s still no verdict on whether the Riverhead Zoning Board of Appeals will allow a $10 million addiction research and treatment facility at the Enterprise Park at Calverton, as the board again adjourned its decision at Thursday’s night’s meeting.


02/21/14 12:00pm
02/21/2014 12:00 PM

A proposed off-site parking lot on Swezey Avenue for Farm Country Kitchen will first require a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals. (Barbaraellen Koch photo)

Farm Country Kitchen’s proposed site plan with off-site parking will not be approved by the Riverhead Town Planning Board unless it first gets a variance from the town Zoning Board of Appeals, board members said at Thursday’s Planning Board meeting.  (more…)

01/21/14 12:00pm
01/21/2014 12:00 PM
Calverton EPCAL sign

MICHAEL WHITE FILE PHOTO | One of two signs marking the EPCAL entrance along Route 25 in Calverton.

The Riverhead Zoning Board of Appeals is expected to vote Thursday on a proposal to build a $10 million drug addition research and treatment facility on 34 acres at the Enterprise Park at Calverton.

A group of scientists, medical professionals and developers called Calverton Addiction Research Education: New York (CARE NY) is proposing the center for land owned by developer Jan Burman and located within a Planned Industrial Park zone.

The facility would not only research addiction, but also provide temporary housing for up to 100 addiction patients seeking treatment. The patients, who would stay for up to 120 days, would be part of the research while they receive treatment, according to CARE NY’s founder and CEO, Andrew Drazan.

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Since it was first proposed last fall, the project also received a $1 million grant from the New York State Economic Development Council in December.

It’s unclear how a refusal of the application by the ZBA would impact the grant.

Dr. Rickard Terenzi, a retired Stony Brook University researcher who is involved with CARE NY, said at a Jan. 9 ZBA hearing on the proposal that having the test subjects on site is something that’s been missing from previous addiction research.

In the past, scientists studying addiction would literally have to take people off the streets to study their addictions, and many of those subjects would drop out of the research program before it was completed, rendering the research useless, according to Vincent Messina, the attorney for the applicant.

“If you approve this, we believe the primary source of addiction research will be coming from the Calverton site,” Dr. Terenzi told the ZBA.

One of the areas CARE NY plans to study is why some people are addicted to certain drugs and others are not, he said.

The PIP zone allows research and testing laboratories as a permitted use, but the question before the ZBA is whether “a research facility with an accessory treatment center” is a permitted use.

A residential treatment center is not mentioned as a permitted or prohibited use anywhere in the town code.

The ZBA has held two public hearings on the proposal, on Oct. 3, 2013, and on Jan. 9, 2014. At the end of the Jan. 9 hearing, the ZBA closed the matter to further comment. Chairman Fred McLaughlin said the ZBA will render a decision at its Jan. 23 meeting, which starts at 7 p.m.


01/10/14 1:00pm
01/10/2014 1:00 PM


Lawyers representing two new plazas on Route 58 are looking for approval to bypass the town’s signage regulations, after one of the plaza owners has already been cited for violating the town’s signage code.

At Thursday’s ZBA meeting, the owners of the new Walmart shopping center asked for variances to allow a second directory sign that is much larger than the code permits, and located on a neighboring property.

And the owners of the Saber-Riverhead shopping center, which features Dick’s Sporting Goods and other stores, asked for permission to use the stores’ actual logos on their directory sign, with the two most prominent tenants — Dick’s and Christmas Tree Shops — displayed more prominently. The Town Code requires all the lettering on the signs to be identical in color, font and size, though the current signage already features Dick’s and Christmas Tree Shops in the stores’ logos.

Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz said on Friday that Saber-Riverhead had been cited recently for violating the town’s signage code, and the owners applied for the variance afterwards.

Charles Cuddy, the attorney for Saber-Riverhead, said that the stores in that shopping center are 600 feet off the road, and the corporate logos of stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Christmas Tree Shops are how people know the stores.

Mr. Cuddy said that the sign at Riverhead Centre display the logos of just Home Depot and Waldbaum in big letters, but the other stores are listed in smaller letter that is all the same size and color.

“You see nothing but just letters, and you have to go by and you have to stop your car and read it,” he told the ZBA. “We think it’s important to see the color and the logos that these companies have.”

TIM GANNON PHOTO | The new Walmart on Route 58 is scheduled to open Jan. 15 and will include an expanded line of groceries.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | The new Walmart on Route 58 is scheduled to open Jan. 15 and will include an expanded line of groceries.

“The sign code requires uniformity,” said Dominique Mendez of Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition. “That does make a big difference in what our town looks like. We don’t want loud colors.”

She said allowing Saber Riverhead to use logos would set a precedent, and then Route 58 would begin to look like Nassau County.

Bruno Lourenco, the director of real estate for ALDI, which opened a store on Friday in the Saber-Riverhead shopping center, said their logo is on all their stores and is recognized all over the world.

Mr. Cuddy said there is no impact on the community by allowing the corporate logos on the signs, and not doing so will not allow them to attract as much business.

ZBA member Otto Wittmeier disagreed.

“Most people that come to our town know where these businesses are,” Mr. Wittmeier added. “I don’t think anybody stops the car” to read the store signs, he added.

Larry Simms of South Jamesport said he thinks the current sign code should be enforced.

“I believe uniformity would be an improvement,” he said. “I’ve never seen a car stopping on Route 58 to locate a store.”

The ZBA plans to make a decision on that application on Jan. 23.

The owners of the new Walmart shopping center, which is being called Gateway Plaza, is seeking two directory signs, one at either end of the shopping center, and they are seeking permission to allow those signs to be bigger than permitted, and to allow one of them to be on an adjacent property owned by the same company.

Linda Margolin, the attorney for the applicant, said they would like to advertise the stores that will go in the 27,000-square foot shopping center being built just east of the Walmart store, on the sign. Those tenants have not be identified yet.

She said they want to locate the eastern directory sign on the adjacent Applebee’s property, which has similar ownership to the Walmart property, because there are utilities underground in that corner of the Walmart lot that prevent them from locating a sign there.

As for the size of the sign, the applicants are seeking a 96-square foot sign — the code allows signs to be no bigger than 60 square feet — and other variances for the directory sign. This way, they can advertise whatever tenants they lease space to in the 27,000 square foot shopping center, she said.

“Sixty square feet doesn’t take into account the number of tenants we are seeking identification for,” Ms. Margolin said.

If need be, they would agree to remove the existing free-standing signs for Applebee’s and Adchem and put those names on panels in the directory sign, Ms. Margolin said.

Lerner-Heidenberg Properties — the New Jersey company that owns both lots — is also advertising an additional 7,000 square feet of store space on the Applebees lot, according to their web site. Walmart is scheduled to open up on Jan. 15.

“You’re really pushing the limits of everything here, that’s for sure” ZBA chairman Fred McLaughlin said.

Former Riverhead Councilman George Bartunek, who was instrumental in developing the sign code, urged the ZBA to make the applicant comply with the code as much as possible so as not to create a precedent.

“If you look at what happened on Route 58 because of the sign code, Route 58 could look a lot worse,” Mr. Bartunek said.

The ZBA also plans to make a decision on that application on Jan. 23.

01/09/14 5:00pm
01/09/2014 5:00 PM
NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Jamesport Manor Inn restaurant and inn operates in the site of what was a long-vacant Victorian-style house on Manor Lane.

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Jamesport Manor Inn restaurant and inn operates in the site of what was a long-vacant Victorian-style house on Manor Lane.

The owners of Jamesport Manor Inn on Thursday morning attempted to convince the Riverhead Town Board to end the 10-year litigation between the two sides and give them a special permit to build a 4,200 square foot barn in the back of the property, as well as a 1,200 square foot tent near the road for catering events.

But it doesn’t appear the town council appears open to granting the permit.

Jamesport Manor Inn co-owner Frank McVeigh said he expects to lose about $81,000 this year on the restaurant, an historic structure that was rebuilt several years ago after it was destroyed by fire. Mr. McVeigh said the restaurant use alone isn’t enough to sustain the business financially.

Under the town code, a use that pre-existed zoning and doesn’t conform to its current zoning can be expanded if the Town Board grants a special permit to do so. Special permit applications require public hearings.

However, Town Board members balked at the idea, since they say the expansion is bigger than what’s there now.

The Jamesport Manor Inn restaurant is 2,930 square feet and has 80 seats. The barn being proposed would be 4,200 square feet and would have 150 seats, which is down from the 182 seats proposed back in 2008.

The property, on the east side of Manor Road in Jamesport, is 3.8 acres.

Supervisor Sean Walter says he doesn’t think the Town Board has ever granted an expansion of a non-conforming use that was more than 100 percent.

“I am not about to set a precedent,” he told Mr. McVeigh.

The Inn, which is more than 250 years old, had sat unused for several years before Mr. McVeigh and co-owner Matt Kar undertook a plan to restore it. That plan was set back by the 2005 fire, after which they built a new structure to resemble the historic building.

The owners had made this same proposal in 2008 and were rejected by the town Zoning Board of Appeals in 2009 on an application seeking an interpretation as to whether the proposed catering use was an extension of the restaurant, and could be granted by special permit. But the ZBA denied the application on the grounds that it felt the owners failed to post a hearing notice properly so they could get an adjournment, rather than on the question before it.

The case went to court and a state supreme court judge in 2010 ordered the town to process the application. But a state appellate court later overruled the state supreme court and said the whole case had to go back to state supreme court, which is where it is currently.

Mr. McVeigh and Ms. Margolin made their case to the Town Board to just make the application for a special permit and eliminate the need for the courts or the ZBA.

But the discussion ended with no clear verdict.

Asked afterward what the conclusion of the half-hour long discussion was, Mr. Walter replied, “I don’t think there was one.”