A proposal to turn the former Bayview Inn & Restaurant in S. Jamesport into a five-unit apartment house was met with further opposition on Thursday night at the Riverhead Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, during which ZBA members decided to hold off on voting on the application until their next meeting.
Neighbors argued both at a ZBA hearing in December and at a continuation of that hearing Thursday night that it would be too intense a use for the neighborhood.
“This type of structure is going to have a negative impact on property values,” said neighbor John Timm.
“I have serious concerns, as do neighbors, about adding a great number of people to the neighborhood,” South Jamesport resident Ethel Sussman said.
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ZBA members are expected to rule on the application — made by Gatofreddo, LLC, a firm headed by Southampton attorney Richard Mathew — at their Feb. 26 meeting.
Gatofreddo acquired the property last year and the inn and restaurant closed in the fall. The 20,000-square foot property actually includes two buildings – the inn and restaurant building, which was built about 150 years ago, and a smaller building just east of that.
The smaller building was being used as a two-family home while the inn — which had five hotel rooms in addition to the restaurant — was in operation.
Gatofreddo’s application previously called for a subdivision of the property to split up the two buildings. The plan was to lease the smaller building as a single-family home, while converting the main building into a five-room apartment, according Adam Grossman, Gatofreddo’s attorney.
However, following a meeting he had with the county health department, they were told the health department wouldn’t approve the subdivision, Mr. Grossman said. Because of this, their revised application calls for leaving the smaller building as a two-family home while developing the main building as a five-unit apartment.
“So now the use is even more intense?” ZBA member Leroy Barnes asked.
Scott DeSimone, the ZBA’s attorney, said the board could deny their request and only allow one apartment.
Under the property’s current zoning, a single-family home is all that’s allowed on the property. But Mr. Grossman argues that since it operated as a hotel and inn, and as a boarding house, in the past, that use predates zoning and is grandfathered.
Some speakers at the December hearing said they’d like to see the restaurant use continue, although Mr. Grossman stressed that that is not being proposed. He said the proposed use is more in keeping with what zoning allows in that neighborhood, and that few if any of the neighboring properties would conform with zoning if they were built new, since the zoning requires two-acre residential lots.
“If I lived next door, I’d rather have the apartment use than the restaurant,” Mr. Grossman said.
South Jamesport resident Angela DeVito, who is also the president of the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association, said that restaurants have a set number of hours that they’re open, whereas the apartments are operating 24-7.
“So in terms of the restaurant being a burden or being undesirable, I don’t agree,” Mr. DeVito said.
Mr. Mathew said they are not proposing any change to the size of the buildings and the apartments will have less parking spaces and less people than the restaurant and inn.