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Glass Greenhouse in Jamesport seeks to add bistro


The owners of the Glass Greenhouse in Jamesport, who are still in litigation with Riverhead Town over a farm market they built three years ago, have now submitted a special permit application seeking to have a bistro in the same location. 

Under Riverhead’s Town Code, a bistro is defined as “an eating establishment of 50 seats or less, whether indoor or outdoor, without drive-through or drive-in service.”

The application describes the work to be done as being simply the “installation of tables and chairs for a bistro in the interior of the building.”

Owner Walter Gabrielsen declined to comment on the proposal. His 9.3-acre property includes greenhouses and the farm market.

A special permit is allowed only with a vote of the Town Board, and a bistro is permitted in the Rural Corridor zone, where Glass Greenhouse is located, as a special permit use.

Owners Walter and Edith Gabrielsen in 2013 built a two-story, 4,600-square-foot farm market next to their existing greenhouse on Route 25, and that structure received site plan approval from the Riverhead Town Planning Board.

But while a farm market is a permitted accessory use in Rural Corridor zoning, the town took Glass Greenhouse to court in 2014, claiming in court papers that the Glass Greenhouse was selling items that weren’t grown on the property, weren’t locally grown or weren’t enhanced locally grown products, as required by the Town Code.

As such, the town claimed that by not meeting these requirements, the use was a retail store, rather than a farm market, and a retail store is not permitted in this part of the Rural Corridor zone.

“He was operating a supermarket outside the parameters of the zoning code,” Supervisor Sean Walter said this week.

Mr. Walter said he’s not sure how many uses Mr. Gabrielsen can have on the property, but he will consult with the Planning Department.

The application will first need special permit approval from the Town Board, and if it gets that, it would need site plan approval from the Planning Board, Mr. Walter said.

Planning and Building Administrator Jeff Murphree said he has not reviewed the application yet.

The town’s whole case could be moot because the 9.3 acres are located in a state agricultural district, which protects farms from “unreasonably restrictive local regulations.”

A sign on the door at Glass Greenhouse said it is currently closed for renovations and would reopen when the renovations are done.

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