Riverhead IDA grants tax break to Marriott proposed for Route 58

Marriott Residence Inn RH

In a split vote Monday night, the Riverhead Industrial Development Agency voted 3-1 to give tax incentives to Browning Hotel Properties for a second hotel proposed to be built next to the existing 114-room Hilton Garden Inn on Route 58.

IDA member Dawn Thomas, a former town attorney, cast the lone “no” vote, saying she wanted more time to read information submitted by the applicant. She had asked to table the vote for a future meeting, but the other board members opposed doing so, and proceeded with the vote on the application. 

IDA member Paul Thompson, who submitted his resignation from the IDA on March 30, was present Monday and voted yes.

Since the Town Board hasn’t formally voted to accept Mr. Thompson’s resignation — it’s expected to do so Tuesday — he is still officially a member of the IDA, according to IDA attorney Richard Ehlers.

Developer Lee Browning is proposing to built a 140-suite Marriott Residence Inn next to the Hilton Garden Inn, which he also owns and which also received IDA tax incentives in 2007. Mr. Browning said the tax credits — which include a partial property tax abatement, sales tax abatements on building materials used in the construction of the hotel and county mortgage recording tax abatements — are required by his bank in order to get financing for the project.

Only onee person, Larry Simms of South Jamesport, spoke against giving Browning tax breaks at an IDA public hearing last Monday.

At this Monday’s meeting, the IDA held a public hearing on a proposal called Riverhead Cider House, which calls for putting a hard cider mill inside the Grapes and Greens agricultural processing and storage facility on Sound Avenue in Baiting Hollow.

The cider mill would occupy 38,000 square feet of the existing 108,178-square-foot building, with bottling and tasting onsite. No vote was taken by IDA members Monday.

The site plan application for the cider house proposal met with opposition at a Riverhead Town Planning Board hearing last Thursday, but the only opposition expressed to the IDA Monday came from two letters, one by Mr. Simms — who said a cider house that uses non-local apples, as is proposed here, would hurt legitimate farms and vineyards — and one from Mark Terry of Baiting Hollow.

Mr. Terry, a Southold Town planner who later said he was speaking strictly as a Riverhead resident, opposed giving tax abatements to projects that don’t have an approved site plan.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio also raised concerns about the impact the project would have on local roads, and whether it would produce high paying jobs for local people.

“What are we getting from this project coming to Riverhead?,” she asked.

Mr. King said the average salary in his company is about $50,000, and they have a $21 million payroll and about 400 employees overall.
The applicants say there would initially be four to six employees at the cider mill, but that each year they would add two or three more.

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