Editor’s note: This story was edited for clarify and updated at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30.
Some residents of Raynor Avenue in Riverhead are concerned that an existing auto parts store across the street from their homes is on its way to becoming a de facto car dealership.
A lawyer for Apple Honda said the dealership is running out of room for car storage due to impending development along Route 58. In June, the Riverhead Zoning Board of Appeals authorized the business to store cars on a 2.43-acre property on the west side of Raynor Avenue, where it operates Apple Automotive Discount Center and where car storage would otherwise be prohibited.
But residents Larisa Turchick and Stasia Bermudez have objected to the plan — and both spoke out last month during one of two public hearings on Apple Honda’s building applications. In addition to car storage, the company plans a new building and an expansion of the existing structure on Raynor Avenue. Two new buildings are also in the works for the Apple Honda dealership on Route 58.
“We don’t want it to become part of his dealership,” Ms. Turchick said of the auto parts location. “That’s the big issue. We live right across the street.”
The ZBA approval states that only new or pre-owned vehicles owned by Apple Honda can be stored on Raynor Avenue, and that no more than 10 cars can be moved on or off the property each day.
“You’re never going to be able to enforce that,” scoffed Planning Board member Ed Densieski at the Sept. 18 meeting where the residents spoke out.
The ZBA didn’t put a limit on the number of cars that could be stored on Raynor Avenue. Its resolution is written so that as many as 10 cars can be added to the site per day, under the rules. But it also requires that the cars be fenced in and states that the agreement will expire after one year unless an extension is approved.
Ms. Bermudez said she understood from the ZBA meetings that a maximum of only 10 cars would be allowed to be stored on the Raynor Avenue site at any given time.
“I was very vocal,” Ms. Bermudez said. “I didn’t want the dealership to be there. It’s not an auto dealership. It’s a parts place.”
Ms. Turchick said previous issues neighbors have had with the Raynor Avenue site — including cleanup, late night deliveries and landscaping — have been addressed.
Apple Honda is proposing to build a single-story 8,600-square-foot warehouse behind the existing 9,100-square-foot Apple Automotive Discount Center building, which would also get a 4,000-square-foot rear addition.
Apple Honda’s lawyer, Pete Danowski, said at the Sept. 18 meeting that with all the additional construction planned for the Raynor Avenue site, there won’t be space to store cars there anyway.
But even when fully built, that expansion would cover only about 20.5 percent of the property — or 21,700 of its 105,850 square feet. Though, not all of that would be buildable.
As for the Route 58 property, Apple Honda’s application calls for construction of a two-story 7,400-square-foot showroom and office building just east of the existing dealership, as well as a 2,400-square-foot maintenance building toward the rear of the parcel.
The need for additional vehicle storage emerged because two other properties near the intersection of Route 58 and Osborn Avenue, which Apple Honda has long leased for that purpose, are now slated for development.
Raynor Avenue resident Daniel Langhorn said he had concerns with more building along the road.
“I wouldn’t be too comfortable with that; there’s already a lot of traffic in this area,” he said.
Another resident, Janina Normoyle, who said her father once worked in the auto parts store when it was a canned clam factory decades back, said she had been meaning to attend last month’s Planning Board meeting but couldn’t.
“I want to know what’s happening in my neighborhood,” she said. “Since this runs from Route 58 to 25, we already get a lot of crazy drivers.”