Hearing set on proposed retail center next to Applebee’s

A 7,200 sf retail building is proposed for this grass lot in Applebee's parking on Rt 58
A 7,200 sf retail building is proposed for this grass lot in Applebee’s parking on Rt 58

Some developers along Route 58 have been looking to put development in the parking lots of existing development.

The latest example is the Applebee’s shopping center, where the property owners are seeking site plan approval to locate a new 7,200-square-foot retail center on a grass “pad” in the eastern parking lot of Applebee’s, the 5,400-square-foot restaurant which was built in 1999.

The site plan approval for Applebee’s in 1999 actually designated the pad, which is surrounded by parking, for additional stores.

However, the property’s zoning changed in 2003, and the prior “Industrial A” zone no longer allowed retail, while the current “destination retail center” zone does.

As a result, a new site plan is needed for retail on that spot, according to town building and planning administrator Jeff Murphree.

The Riverhead Town Planning Board has scheduled a public hearing on the preliminary site plan for the new application at its July 2 meeting, which starts at 3 p.m.

“We have to take a close look at this; there’s definitely some parking issues,” Planning Board member Ed Densieski said.

The site will not be permitted to have another restaurant, Mr. Murphree said.

The applicant, a company controlled by New Jersey-based Lerner Properties, has not disclosed who the tenants would be in the retail stores, should they get built.

Just east of Applebee’s is the Gateway Plaza, which contains the existing 167,000-square-foot Walmart, an existing 23,000-square-foot Bob’s Discount Furniture.

Another 4,000-square-feet of retail is available in the west end of the Bob’s building.

In this shopping center, a proposed 3,500-square-foot “hospital annex” has been proposed by Peconic Bay Medical Center in the parking lot in front of Bob’s Discount Furniture.

Gateway Plaza and the Applebee’s shopping center, which is being called “Riverhead Plaza,” are both owned by companies controlled by Lerner Properties, which advertises both sites on its web site.

The hospital annex received preliminary site plan approval in February, but has yet to receive final approval.

Planning Board member Stan Carey cast the lone “no” vote on the preliminary site plan, saying there is already too much traffic in that location.

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