Town won’t OK Costco plan without proper berm, buffering

(Credit: Tim Gannon)
The Costco development’s buffer next to Foxwood Village. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

The Riverhead Town Planning Board discussed Thursday its concerns with the Shops at Riverhead/Costco’s ongoing development on Route 58 and announced it won’t sign off on the project unless certain progress is made.

Planning Board members said the developers won’t receive a certificate of occupancy, or CO — the final document needed before a building can officially open — until they stabilize a berm located on the northern boarder of the Foxwood Village neighborhood and plant trees in accordance to the project’s site plan.

“They said they were going to stabilize the berm, they didn’t do it,” Planning Board member Ed Densieski said. “They are not going to get a CO until they do what we want them to do.”

Planning Board member Stan Carey said he was at the construction site Thursday at 2 p.m. and saw that the berm was washing away in some spots.

“We shouldn’t wait until the last minute to talk to them,” he said.

Town planners said they will meet with the developers and give them a punch list of tasks to complete in order to obtain a CO.

[Prior coverage of Costco/Shops at Riverhead’s construction woes]

Vinne Guadiello, the town’s consulting engineer, said the developers haven’t made landscaping and buffering a priority.

“Even though the berm (at Foxwood) is 600 feet from the Costco building, we expect it to be finished,” he said.

Foxwood Village residents Barbara Ross and Robert Hall said the developers haven’t planted the required 266 trees along the property’s permitter to screen the neighbors from the new stores.

“We counted them,” Ms. Ross said. “There’s only 202.”

The trees that were planted aren’t providing adequate screening, she said, adding she can still see the top of the Costco building from her house. The fence is broken, too, she said.

Deer have since eaten leaves from the bottom of the arborvitaes that the developers planted between the big box store and Foxwood Village, Ms. Ross said.

Peter Mastropoalo and John Stark, co-owners of Foxwood Village, also expressed their displeasure about the construction during the meeting.

Mr. Mastropoalo suggested the developers use the type of deer-resistance arborvitae he planted along Middle Road since deer haven’t eaten those trees.

Thursday’s discussion about the project is the latest in a long litany of complaints.

The developers, Heritage Riverhead Retail Developers LLC, received site plan approval from the Planning Board in 2012, and have since been criticized for the manner in which they clear-cut the land, which was done with Town Board approval.

The developers were also recently accused of taking sand off the property in violation of their site plan and have been criticized for using out-of-state non-union workers.

Peter Danowski, the attorney for the developers, wasn’t at the Planning Board meeting and couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

He has said in prior interviews that Costco plans to open in May.

So far, no other tenants have been identified for the 271,000-square foot shopping center.

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