Embattled eatery files plans with Riverhead Town for more parking

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The entrance to Farm Country Kitchen in Riverhead.

The owner of the popular Farm Country Kitchen eatery on West Main Street has filed a site plan application with Riverhead Town in an attempt to bring the restaurant up to code.

Town officials have said the business has insufficient parking and faces other violations. The town is threatening Supreme Court action.

The site plan, filed just last month, proposes to construct a masonry block wall  in the back parking lot of the popular restaurant that overlooks the Peconic River.

The plan states the restaurant has 24 seats and is thus required by town code to have eight parking stalls, which is how many the owner is proposing under the building plans. The lot is described as pervious, meaning water will seep through the surface rather than run off into the river.

“Obviously the river is there, and if you’re going to put parking there, you wouldn’t want to go right down to the edge, and you wouldn’t want to have any runoff going into the water, so there is a retaining wall proposed,” said Peter Danowski, the attorney for Farm Country Kitchen owner Tom Carson.

The project also needs approval from the state Department of Environmental Conservation because of its proximity to the river, Mr. Danowski said. The business has already filed site plans with the DEC, as the News-Review reported in September.

The Riverhead Town Board last June passed a resolution authorizing legal action in state Supreme Court against Farm Country Kitchen.

At the time, Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said the restaurant was operating illegally.

“[Mr. Carson] cannot do what he’s doing there,” he had said, insisting the business owner only acquired approvals for take-out catering. “He cannot have a full-fledged restaurant, no parking, no traffic control, no handicapped access, and basically no permits.”

Mr. Danowski said Farm Country Kitchen has been in Town Justice Court for some violations, but the town has not yet taken the company to state Supreme Court. Mr. Carson has looked into the possibility of having an off-site parking lot, but is awaiting reaction from the site plan application before deciding what to do next, Mr. Danowski said Thursday.

“We’re hoping the town will give us whatever comments they have and we’ll react to them and hopefully have a favorable conclusion,” Mr. Danowski said. “It’s one of these things where you hope that the town and a local business guy can cooperate to allow something nice to continue.”

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