Town approves gas pumps for Costco

Costco Wholesale will be allowed to sell gasoline from its proposed Route 58 location in Riverhead, but those pumps will have to be at least 500 feet away from the nearest residential property line.

That’s the verdict the Riverhead Town Board arrived at last Wednesday after debating the issue for several months.

Attorneys for the proposed Shops at Riverhead complex on the north side of Route 58, across from Riverhead Raceway, have said that Costco, a national membership warehouse chain, would agree to be a tenant in that development only if it gets permission to sell gasoline, which the property’s current zoning didn’t permit. Wholesale clubs also weren’t a permitted use in that zone but, as a result of last Wednesday’s vote, now are.

Costco has gas pumps at other stores nationwide, but none on Long Island. The nearest Costco that sells gasoline is in Staten Island.

The pumps would all be self-serve and could only be operated by credit or debit cards held by Costco members.

The proposed Costco would be just one store in a larger shopping center that has yet to receive town approval.

The Town Board held a public hearing on a proposal to permit “warehouse clubs or wholesale clubs” in the Destination Retail Zone, where Shops at Riverhead is located, and also to allow fueling facilities as an accessory use to warehouse or wholesale clubs, so long as they are at least 300 feet from residences.

But that generated opposition from residents of Foxwood Village to the north, so board members considered increasing the minimum distance between pumps and surrounding residences to 400 feet.

Peter Danowski, an attorney for Shops at Riverhead, said the pumps were more than 900 feet from Foxwood Village.

But Councilman George Gabrielsen said that in moving the pumps away from Foxwood Village, the developer moved them closer to residences in the Millbrook Community to the east.

Mr. Gabrielsen visited many residents there and found they, too, had concerns, he said. Because of this, the board postponed voting on the issue last month and brought the proposal back last Wednesday with the minimum required distance between the pumps and the boundaries of residential property extended to 500 feet.

The measure passed, 4-0, with Councilman John Dunleavy absent.

“Once this is adopted, I will come in with a site plan and the gas pumps will probably be 501 feet from the residential property,” Mr. Danowski told the Town Board prior to last Wednesday’s vote.

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