Another land clearing stop work order issued near Route 58

A stop work order was issued last month for illegal land clearing on Ostrander Avenue. (Credit: Tim Gannon)
A stop work order was issued last month for illegal land clearing on Ostrander Avenue. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

Riverhead Town’s building department has slapped a stop work order on the development of a new doctor’s office on Ostrander Avenue, where town officials say land clearing was being done prior to site plan approval.

The stop work order was issued last month to Rajesh Mehta of Peconic Management Group, who is planning to build a single medical office on the site, which is on the east side of Ostrander Avenue, just north of a car dealership and across the street from a Suffolk County National Bank branch.

The town recently changed its code to prohibit any land clearing from taking place until a site plan is approved — which this site does not have. In fact, no site plan has even been submitted in town hall.

According to Jim DeLucca, an architect who is working for Mr. Mehta, plans are currently being drawn up, though no exact timeframe was given.

The new land clearing regulations were passed in Riverhead after extensive clearing at the Costco site on Route 58, even though the clearing in that case was done with approval from the Town Board and after site plan approval had been granted.

Earlier this year, the town also issued a stop work order to East End Commons for clearing some trees without a land clearing permit on the property containing BJ’s Warehouse and Kmart. The Town Board also authorized legal action in state supreme court on that case.

Mr. Mehta said in an interview that the Ostrander Avenue property has a large hole in it and he was moving sand from his other property on Roanoke Avenue to fill the hole when the stop work order was issued. He said he was not aware he needed a permit for that.

The Town Code requires permits for land clearing and for excavating or importing, and the town charges $2 per cubic yard for land clearing or importing.

Mr. Mehta said the town is requiring that he pay a $2 per cubic yard fee for exporting the sand off one property and a $2 per cubic yard fee for importing it to the other property, since he owns both.

The stop work order indicates that work cannot resume at the site until the developer obtains all necessary permits and until an approved site plan is obtained from the town Planning Board.

Mr. Mehta had received a Zoning Board of Appeals variance in February that allowed him to build a single medical office on the site, despite the fact that the property’s “shopping center” zoning district calls for “office campuses” of several buildings.

The ZBA variance also permitted the buffer between the adjacent properties to be less than normally required.