Delay sought on Valero sign public hearing

FILE PHOTO | Town officials have said the digital sign at the Valero station in Jamesport violates historic district codes.
FILE PHOTO | Town officials have said the digital sign at the Valero station in Jamesport violates historic district codes.

Four years after Riverhead Town took the owners of a Jamesport gas station to court over its illuminated sign, the business owners are in the process of taking a new approach to try and settle the score. Though a Thursday night meeting will determine when exactly the next step will be.

Back in 2009, the town took the owners of the Valero gas station on Main Road and South Jamesport Avenue to court over an electronic sign showing gas prices.

Town officials said at the time that internally illuminated signs are not permitted under town code in the Village Center zone, where the gas station is located, and claimed the sign was erected illegally.

Now, four years later, the sign is still there and that case is still pending in state Supreme Court.

Related Op-Ed: FOILs on Valero case kept in the dark

But now, the owners of the gas station are trying a different approach, and have applied to the town Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance to allow them to replace the illuminated sign with an LED illuminated sign at the same location. The applicant, 801F Realty Corp, is seeking the change under a section of the Town Code that allows a use that doesn’t conform to zoning to be changed to another nonconforming use by the ZBA. They also are requesting a variance to allow a shed on the property to be less than the required 10 feet from the side yard property line.

While the application is scheduled for a hearing on Thursday night’s meeting, which starts at 7 p.m., the applicant has already requested that the hearing be moved to the Nov. 14 ZBA meeting, which is two meetings away.

That adjournment, if granted, would also assure that the application to legalize the use is still pending before 801F Realty’s next scheduled court appearance in the lawsuit brought by the town. That court date is scheduled for Nov. 13 before state Supreme Court Judge Jeffrey Spinner.

Kenneth Robinson, an attorney for the applicant, said in a letter to the town that the reason they requested the adjournment to Nov. 14 is because the principal of 801F Realty Corp, Eugene Buccellato, died two weeks ago and the company is in a transition process. Mr. Buccellato was responsible for the Jamesport location and was the one who signed the ZBA application on 801F Realty Corp’s behalf, Mr. Robinson wrote.

In addition, he said the person who prepared the plans for the application, Michael Papsidero, will not be available on Oct. 10.

Bill Duffy, the assistant town attorney who handles planning issues, said Monday that he has instructed the planning department not to automatically grant the adjournment, and to allow the ZBA members to discuss it and make a decision on the request at Thursday’s meeting.