Neighbor wants fence, windows added to tiny restaurant proposal

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | A two-story restaurant is being proposed for a sliver of land between the Route 58 Taco Bell and Harrison Avenue.
TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | A two-story restaurant is being proposed for a sliver of land between the Route 58 Taco Bell and Harrison Avenue.

The 24-seat, 3,200 square foot restaurant proposed for a .3 acre parcel next to Taco Bell on Route 58 in Riverhead should be required to build a fence preventing its customers from using the adjacent parking lot, according to the owner of the neighboring lot.

Richard Israel, who owns the property containing Taco Bell and a four-story  office building, made those comments to the Riverhead Planning Board Thursday night during a public hearing on Guddha LLC’s plans for a restaurant on the tiny strip of land between Taco Bell and Harrison Avenue.

Mr. Israel, who has developed restaurant sites himself in town, stopped short of opposing Guddha LLC’s proposal, but said, “I do believe this is an overdevelopment of the site.”

Mr. Israel also requested that windows, even fake windows, be required on the western portion of the building so that his clients aren’t looking at a “two-story block wall,” as is currently proposed.

The Planning Board closed the hearing, at which Mr. Israel was the only speaker other than the applicant, but held off on taking any action on the plan until the planning department meets with the the applicant to discuss such changes.

“We only get one chance to make it right,” said Planning Board member Ed Densieski in calling for the meeting.

Guddha LLC principal Chuck Chockalingam agreed to the meeting but said his project was approved by the town architectural review board, which did not make such a requirement.

Planners pointed out that the ARB only makes recommendations and doesn’t have approval power.

Mr. Chockalingam’s proposed restaurant would have eight parking spaces for customers and five for employees, which meets Town Code requirements.

He also received variances from the town Zoning Board of Appeals earlier this year to allow the building to be closer to property lines than normally permitted.

The second floor of the proposed restaurant would not be open to the public, Mr. Chockalingam said. He doesn’t have a tenant yet for the restaurant but said he has been contacted by several prospective tenants.

Mr. Israel requested that a six-foot fence be required between the two properties to prevent garbage and blowing onto his property and to prevent customers on the proposed restaurant from using his parking lot.

“The parking lot adjacent to this is to be used exclusively by my office tenants,” he said.

Mr. Israel also raised concerns that the trees remaining on the property that are not proposed to be removed will die anyway during construction “and will have fallen in my parking lot.”

Mr. Chockalingam said if the trees die during construction, he will replace them.

Mr. Israel doesn’t think eight parking spaces will be enough, saying that a 3,000 square foot restaurant is about the size of the Riverhead Wendy’s.

He said many people have tried to develop this parcel of land in the past and failed. At one time it had a mobile home on it and someone lived there.

Mr. Chockalingam acquired the land through a county auction of properties in tax default.

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