Should Riverhead Town build a side road that runs parallel to Route 25A just west of McDonald’s in Wading River? Or should it allow future developers to simply link their parking lots instead?
That was a debate that surfaced at Thursday’s Riverhead Town Board work session.
Back in 1988, a Wading River Hamlet Study recommended creating an “access or service drive” for the commercially zoned properties on the south side of Route 25A, just west of Wading River-Manor Road.
The proposed road, which also was called for in the town’s 2012 Wading River Corridor Study, was to run behind future businesses along Route 25A , and would “provide rear access to the properties, limiting curb cuts along the street and improving traffic flow,” the 2012 study states.
But a proposal discussed Thursday would instead use an “easement” the town owns north of the proposed buildings, about 20 feet south of Route 25A, according to Supervisor Sean Walter. He said the Hamlet Study proposal was never adopted into zoning, and that the town only recently realized it owned the easement.
In the years since the 1988 Hamlet Study was completed, McDonald’s and Walgreens were built on the eastern end of this section of Route 25A, and two large commercial site plan applications — Venezia Square, which calls for 40,000 square feet of construction on 6.3 acres and 6333 Realty Group, which calls for 8,160-square feet of construction on 1.3 acres — have been proposed west of McDonald’s and east of Dogwood Drive.
On Thursday, the owners of the 6333 Realty Group property, George and Deirdre Dubato, appealed to the Riverhead Town Board to drop plans for an “easement” creating the road in front of the future-buildings.
They want the town to instead allow “cross-access agreements” between the individual property owners to allow traffic to flow from one parking lot to the next without having to re-enter Route 25A.
Ms. Dubato and architect Richard Searles said they’ve already agreed to the cross-access agreement, as has Venezia.
That would leave one property between Alexander Tuthill Funeral Home and McDonald’s that hasn’t agreed to a cross access plan, and that property is Bernard May’s farm, where there are no current plans to develop.
Mr. Walter says he won’t agree to remove the easement, which the town owns.
“This makes complete planning sense,” Mr. Walter said, adding that this type of side road is prevalent in the south as a way to limit curb cuts onto highways like Route 25A.
Mr. Walter said relying on individual property owners agreeing to link parking lots, if one property owner doesn’t agree, the whole plan falls apart.
Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said the town already requires cross-access agreements as a condition of site plan approval.
“We don’t want to create a road,” Mr. Searles said, because cars will use the service road as a way to avoid the traffic light at Wading River-Manor Road and Route 25A, something cars already do now at the Speedway gas station and the shopping center on the northwest corner of the traffic light.
“This road scares me,” Councilman Jim Wooten said of the notion of cars speeding through a parking lot to avoid the traffic light.
Mr. Walter said it wouldn’t be a parking lot, it would be a separate road.
The town already got the McDonald’s and Walgreens stores to connect parking lots, he said.
“Traffic on Route 25A is insane,” he said.
The Dubatos own the Wading River Veterinary Hospital further east on Route 25A and plan to move it once the 6333 Realty Group project is built.
Ms. Dubato said that application was submitted three years ago and still hasn’t been approved.
She also pointed out that a traffic signal has been proposed at the Dogwood Drive intersection as part of the Venezia site plan. She said that would solve many of the problems.
The 6333 Realty Group site plan calls for two buildings — a 4,320-square foot building toward the rear of the property that is proposed for office use, including the veterinary office, and a 3,840-square feet toward the front of the property, closer to Route 25A, that is planned for future retail and office use, according to the application.
Town Board members did not reach a consensus on the issue at Thursday’s work session and plan to research it further.
Image: Map showing Venezia Square, left, and 6333 Realty Group developments on Route 25A in Wading River.