Lowe’s says coming to Riverhead depends on new traffic light

The Lowe’s home improvement store in Medford.

Lowe’s won’t be coming to Riverhead unless the company could pop another traffic light up on Route 58.
An attorney for the store, planned for the vacant Suffolk Life property on Route 58, made it clear to the News-Review that the county must approve a light connecting the Suffolk Life entrance to the Riverhead Centre across the street for the project to move forward.
“No light, no deal,” attorney Joseph Buzzell said.
The county Department of Public Works in February rejected a plan for a new light, which would  be the third along the length of Riverhead Centre’s property and the 15th traffic light between the Long Island Expressway and Route 105, not counting the traffic circle at Roanoke Avenue.
The Riverhead Town Board is expected to vote on a resolution Tuesday night in support of the new light, and county Legislator Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches) is planning to submit a resolution before the Legislature on April 27 that would override the Department of Public Works ruling, Mr. Buzzell said.
Without a new light at the Suffolk Life entrance, westbound traffic turning into the Lowe’s site, and cars trying to turn left out of the Lowe’s site would have no light and two lanes of traffic to cross, Mr. Buzzell said.
Riverhead Town Board members seemed poised to support the Legislature’s moves to help the popular home improvement store come to the East End.
“It’s not great planning, but if Lowe’s isn’t going to come because they can’t get a traffic light, what do I want to do? Not have Lowe’s come?” Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said last week during a public work session in Town Hall. “That’s construction jobs, that’s a million dollar building, this is a job-creating resolution.”
“People are going to make the left turn anyway and it’s going to be dangerous because they are going to have to come across two lanes of traffic,” added Councilman John Dunleavy.
Councilman Jim Wooten said he’d support the light, although he called it “another example of the tail wagging the dog.”
“Lowe’s isn’t coming unless they get a light, and Costco isn’t coming unless they can pump gas,” he said, referring to the proposal to allow gas stations at a proposed Costco store on the former Hazeltine property, also on Route 58, a county road.
A public hearing on a proposed zoning amendment to allow gas pumping in the zone in which Costco is proposed is scheduled for Tuesday night’s Town Board meeting.
Calling the Suffolk Life building “one of the biggest eyesores in town,” Mr. Buzzell said that if Lowe’s pulls out, the town is not likely to get another developer willing to invest as much into that site.
The light is the last obstacle Lowe’s must face before getting site plan approval, he said, adding that their proposal would make the site look nice and would add more landscaping than the Town Code requires.

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