An assisted living center is now being planned on a 10-acre property in Jamesport that had previously been proposed for a commercial development with two bistros and professional offices.
Robert DiNoto, a Woodbury-based developer who acquired the property as part of a bankruptcy proceeding from former owner Julius Klein, discussed the assisted living project with the Riverhead Town Board at its work session Thursday.
The proposal features a 63,000-square-foot, two-story building with 115 units in front of Main Road, across the street from the Elbow Room restaurant.
In the same bankruptcy proceeding more than two years ago, Mr. DiNoto also acquired 34 acres just north of the 10-acre site. He said if he can build the assisted living center, he would not develop the 34 acres and would consider selling its development rights, which would limit its use to farming.
“This would support the financials of the project if we were able to develop it,” DiNoto said of the assisted living proposal.
“The idea was to keep a country setting,” he added.
Supervisor Sean Walter said: “Well I love this.”
He cautioned, however, that the assisted living project would need a zone change, since it’s not a permitted use under the property’s current zoning.
Likewise, it might also need an on-site sewage treatment plan, something Mr. DiNoto said he would build, if needed.
The town has an assisted living section in its retirement center zoning but has yet to apply it to any sites. Mr. DiNoto still must determine if this proposal meets the criteria of that zone.
A separate assisted living project with 162 units is being proposed for 25 acres east of Mill Road and north of Home Depot in Riverhead. The town has scheduled a Feb. 7 public hearing on a proposal to change that zoning from agricultural protection zone to the new assisted living zoning the town created after this project was first proposed five years ago.
Mr. Walter asked Mr. DiNoto if he thought the town could support two assisted living projects. Mr. DiNoto said he didn’t know, and that his company wouldn’t operate the facility, but would contract with someone else to do so.
Councilman John Dunleavy said he believes two assisted living communities could co-exist in Riverhead.
Angela DiVito, the president of the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association, said they would be interested in discussing this proposal further with Mr. DiNoto. Mr. Walter had also suggested Mr. DiNoto talk to civic groups about his proposal.
The previous commercial development plan was met with opposition from residents, who unsuccessfully challenged in court the Town Board’s special permit approvals to allow bistros and professional offices on the site.
Town Board members appeared to be in support of the new proposal.
“We very, very rarely do a change of zone,” Mr. Walter said. “But I think the community is more in favor of this, so we’re going to be looking at it.”
The 34-acre property to the north was once envisioned as a 160-unit retirement community by Mr. Klein. However, that land was rezoned in 2004 as part of the town’s master plan.
Photo Caption: Robert DiNoto descibes plans for an assisted living project in Jamesport. (Credit: Tim Gannon)