Riverhead Planning Board holds off on ‘Village at Jamesport’ vote

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | The 'Village' is proposed for this land land on Main Road.

The Riverhead Planning Board on Thursday decided to hold off on adopting the findings statement for Jul-Bet Enterprises’ 42,000-square-foot commercial site plan application in Jamesport until its next meeting, which will be held at night.

Adopting a findings statement means that no further environmental study of the project is needed.

Planning Board chairman Richard O’Dea said there was little advance notice that the board would be voting on the finding statement.

Earlier this year, the Town Board adopted the findings statement for Jul-Bet Enterprise’s special permit application for the same project, which the company calls “Village of Jamesport,” and was criticized by some members of the public for doing so with little public input.

The Town Board subsequently granted the special permits, allowing developer Julius Klein to build bistros and professional offices on part of the project, instead of retail.

The site plan, on the other hand, deals with the entire commercial project, and jurisdiction over that application lies with the town Planning Board.

Planning Board chairman Richard O’Dea said the board had only posted its agenda on the town website Monday saying it would be voting on the findings statement Thursday, giving the public only three days notice.

“This is high profile,” he said. “I suggest we table it until the next meeting.”

The next meeting is on July 5, and it will begin at 7 p.m.

Mr. O’Dea said more people might attend a night meeting.

Town planning director Rick Hanley suggested that the Planning Board also hold a  public hearing on the application, something not required to do because it was submitted before the town passed a law requiring hearings on site plans.

Jul-Bet Enterprise’s site plan calls for 42,000 square feet of commercial development on 9.7 vacant acres of land across from the Elbow Room restaurant on Route 25 in Jamesport. It was actually submitted in Oct. 2005, and then the town in 2008 required the company to do an environmental study, which was completed this year and is the subject of the findings statement’s recommendation.

“We’re going to ask them for a new site plan,” planning director Mr. Hanley said, echoing one of the recommendations of the findings statement, which recommends that the buildings constructed along Route 25 be done so in line with the existing commercial buildings to the east.

Planning Board members also expressed concern at the application’s proposal to excavate 88,000 cubic yards of sand from the property and take it off-site.

“Why is necessary to remove that amount of material?” Mr. O’Dea asked. “That is a considerable amount of material.”

Charles Cuddy, the attorney for Jul-Bet, said the application states they will need to move an estimated 88,000 cubic yards.

The findings statement also suggests that a traffic light will be needed at the entrance to the proposed development, which would be just east of the existing traffic light at South Jamesport Avenue and Route 25.

The reports says the existing light can handle the projected traffic associated with this development without problem, but that the proposed new entrance would operate an unacceptable level of service without a traffic light.

The applicants have also proposed to create 15 additional parking spaces for use by the existing Jamesport businesses along ROute 25, which have no off-street parking currently. Planning Board members said they support that.

The site plan application only applies to the 9.7 acres on the south part of the property, near Route 25.

Mr. Klein also owns 34 acres north of that, on which is once proposed building 160 unit retirement community, until the town rezoned the property in 2004 and reduced the amount of homes that could be built there to about 15.

“The area to the north is a significant archeological area,” Mr. Hanley said. “There were no artifacts found on this property (the 9.7 acres to the south) but the property to the north has significant archaeological impacts.”

The 34-acre site had been identified as an Indian burial site by archaeologists in 1940 and again in 1953, according to John Strong, a retired Southampton College history professor who specializes in Native American history.

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