‘Knightland’ application goes to planning board; civics protest

07/21/2011 7:49 PM |

TIM GANNON PHOTO | A model of Kenney Barra's proposed Knightland project of small shops and a restaurant on Route 25A.

While the Riverhead Town Board has committed to studying zoning along the Route 25A corridor in Wading River, where four large commercial applications are pending, civics and environmentalists continue to insist that a moratorium be declared on reviewing those projects until the results of that study are finalized.

Representatives of the Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition, the Group for the East End and the Wading River Civic Associations made their comments during Thursday’s town planning board meeting, where one of the four projects, developer Kenney Barra’s Knightland vision for the intersection of Route 25A and Sound Avenue, was being discussed.

The Knightland application, which would replace the beverage store at that intersection, calls for the construction of a 4,900-square-foot restaurant and 32,518 square feet of retail in 24 buildings.

Dominique Mendez of the neighborhood preservation group said her members don’t believe the planning board should continue to review the Knightland application. The group claims the proposed project doesn’t conform to the intent of the zone, which is “to allow for the development of small clusters of shops, including eating and drinking establishments and professional offices, geared primarily toward providing daily services to residents in the adjacent residential areas.”

They feel the project is intended to draw people from outside the area, a point Mr. Barra has contested.

Mr. Mendez also believes that doing separate reviews of the four projects, which are within a two-mile stretch, violates a section of state environmental review law that bars segmented review of projects.

“The town should impose a moratorium on all plans in the Rte 25A corridor study area, which should include this property, a property that might be recommended for a zone change,” she said.

The Town Board recently hired BFJ Planning of Manhattan to study the zoning and land uses along Route 25A, a move civic and environmental groups had called for. But the board has not declared a moratorium while the study is ongoing.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said recently that the board has not gotten to the point of declaring a moratorium yet, but Councilman George Gabrielsen said he doesn’t think there’s any support on the board for such a measure.

Ms. Mendez said the proposed restaurant in Knightland seems more like a food court, which is not permitted. She based that assessment on the fact that the proposed bathroom is 875 square foot. And she asked that Knightland redo its traffic study, which was done in February, at summer or fall peak times.

Knightland has already taken new traffic counts just last week, according to their traffic consultant, Dan Winkelman.

Ms. Mendez also suggested that the proposed entrances to the project on Sound Avenue be eliminated because they’re too close to two residential streets off Sound Avenue.

Peter Danowski, Mr. Barra’s attorney, said the developer would consider that request. He said they have already agreed to do most of the changes the town has suggested.

Wading River resident Eric Schulman, who said he’s been in retail for 35 years, told the board that the project is not needed, because “brick and mortar” stores are in decline, while internet business is growing.

Mr. Barra said the Yankee Candle company has already contacted him and expressed interest in being in the proposed shopping center.

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Comments

comments

8 Comment

  • Good for you Mr. Barra. Don’t bow to the pressure of anyone. It’s your property and your right to build on it. I am gratefull that there are people like you willing to take a chance. Don’t listen to these people who come from up west. I have lived here for 5o years and would love to see your project built.

  • From what I am reading, all this project will do is draw in more tourists. I would like to see something built that would actually be useful for year-round residents.

  • The plan looks beautiful . It doesn’t matter what is put there , tourist are going to stop . It would be nice to put shoppes in for locals to use year round , though . I live right on 25A , in Wading River . I see traffic backed up for hour after hour , on weekends , from Memorial Day to Labor Day . My husband and I often say , why doesn’t the town or state , put signs up to direct traffic to 25 . People sit in traffic on William Floyd to head east on 25a , to get to Sound Ave . It’s like they don’t know there is another road to head east . By the way , the traffic this year is practically nonexistant , do to the economy I would imagine . I don’t want excessive building here , but one or two resturants , and shoppes would be nice . We could use a little more here .

  • Dear Town Board:

    If you plan to proceed with these commercial projects—one by one—without waiting for the new zoning study to be completed, have the honesty & courage to say so. Don’t waste another $20,000 or $30,000 of our money on a document that’s just for show, to appease your critics in an election year.

    Most of us recognize that your consent to a zoning study is NOT COMPATIBLE with pre-study approval of this retail “village” of 24 buildings totaling 32,000 square feet. Please don’t take us for fools.

    If you withhold project review until a study is done, the developer is out—worst case—6 months worth of property taxes (on mostly unimproved land). In contrast, if you allow the project to be built & experts determine it’s ill-advised, we’re stuck with it forever.

    Please take the short pause necessary for the experts to weigh in on this matter. There’s really no downside in being cautious.

    Sincerely—a concerned taxpayer.

  • There are no experts to weigh in. They should be called people getting paid for their opinion and nothing more. The studies have been done over and over and the only reason for the requests for more are so that maybe finally you will find one that you like. That is the bottom line here to keep soliciting for studies until one is found who will agree with what the people against this project want to hear. You will eventually find one that you approve of all you have to do is pay them handsomely! Mr. Barra has and absolute right to build what he wants on his property. Leave this man and my pocket alone I’ve had enough of this BS already!

  • We agree that money shouldn’t be wasted on a study if the Town Board has predetermined to ignore the results.

    We disagree on what constitutes an expert opinion. You declare, on EVERY project discussed in these pages, that John Developer “has an absolute right to build what he wants on his property.” That’s true…given compliance with existing laws. Some citizens believe this project would NOT comply with existing laws.

    Until you present your own credentials, together with reasoned arguments in support of your position, your statement that the developer “has an absolute right” means nothing.

  • One need not present any credentials to form an opinion. There need not be any reasoned argument in support or against any position. All that matters is the law which gives any person the right to develop/build on the property of which they own. With that being said it doesn’t matter how many times an entity changes their set of rules to benefit themselves. As we have continuously found out by taking the entity to court after filing a lawsuit the property owner is granted the right to do what they want!

  • One need not present any credentials to form an opinion. There need not be any reasoned argument in support or against any position. All that matters is the law which gives any person the right to develop/build on the property of which they own. With that being said it doesn’t matter how many times an entity changes their set of rules to benefit themselves. As we have continuously found out by taking the entity to court after filing a lawsuit the property owner is granted the right to do what they want!