Civics turn up heat; launch ‘Save Wading River’ campaign

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Traffic on Route 25A in Wading River

A civic organization is launching a “major campaign” to convince the Riverhead Town Board to declare a moratorium on new commercial development along Route 25A in Wading River until a comprehensive study of the area is launched and completed.

The Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition, which seeks to link environmental and civic organizations throughout the town, says it is refusing to give up on its call for such a study, even though the town Planning Board unanimously rejected Supervisor Sean Walter’s call for one in early January.

There are currently four commercial development projects proposed for Wading River, with three of them on Route 25A and the other at the Great Rock Golf Course. The four projects total 130,000 square feet of new development.

The civic coalition claims in a press release sent Wednesday that this amount of development “would destroy the hamlet economically and in terms of quality of life.”

The coalition is calling its campaign “Save Wading River” and says it will include “community education, a review of legal
options and a concerted effort to make the Town Board more accountable to the people.”

“If these projects are all built, Wading River as we know it will be utterly destroyed,” said the group’s president, Dominique Mendez. “The Town Board must declare a ‘time out’ while the impacts on home values, local businesses, traffic and quality-of-life are cumulatively assessed.”

Ms. Mendez said that since the Planning Board is not an elected board, it is less accountable to the people, which is why they are centering their efforts on influencing the Town Board.

Mr. Walter, himself a Wading River resident, has repeatedly said he is opposed to the amount of new development proposed in Wading River, but that he’s not sure what can be done. He has said he’s worried that if a developer challenges a town decision in court and wins, a judge could simply declare a project approved, as others have done in several recent cases in town.

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