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Planning Board: New Route 58 retail center’s wall must be higher

Brixmor wall

While portions of the wall proposed for the Mexico-U.S. border may ended up being fence, planning officials in Riverhead are insisting that a wall on one particular commercial property here be even longer and higher than originally proposed.

Riverhead Town Planning Board members told the Brixmor Property Group that a wall on the northeast side of the property designed to separate its proposed 120,000-square-foot retail center from a neighboring residential development must be raised and extended in order to receive site plan approval.

The six-foot-high wall was added to the site plan for the proposal — which would be located adjacent to Costco on Route 58 — after a public hearing last month at which residents of the Millbrook Community on Mill Road said it was necessary to keep noise out of their neighborhood.

Planning Board members George Nunnaro and Ed Densieski said they have since visited the site and found that a six-foot wall would not be high enough to prevent noise issues. They recommended a 12-foot-high wall, which board chairman Stan Carey said would mitigate noise, dust and visual impacts.

“What you’re showing us [in your plan] doesn’t look like a highway wall, but what we’re hearing from the public is that it needs to be,” Mr. Carey told Brixmor representatives at a Planning Board meeting Thursday.

Bill Greimel, vice president of construction for Brixmor, initially expressed concern that a 12-foot wall might make it difficult for the retail center to be visible from the road. He later agreed to install some 12-foot posts on the property so the Planning Board can get a feel for just how high the fence would be before the site plan is reviewed again Dec. 1.

“I’d hate to put something up that’s going to be a monstrosity,” Mr. Greimel said.

Planning Board members stressed that they did not want a repeat of what happened when Costco was approved at the 41-acre property in 2013, when Brixmor clear-cut all the trees at the outset and then later planted berms and natural buffers that didn’t work properly.

“You have to be a good neighbor to get our support,” Mr. Densieski said.

Mr. Greimel stressed that time was of the essence on the project, for which leases are in place but a site plan has not yet been approved.

“We’re at the point now where we’re backing up against lease dates,” he said.

Ulta Beauty, PetSmart, Marshalls and HomeGoods have all been previously mentioned as future tenants of the proposed shopping center.

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Photo: Riverhead Town Planning Board member George Nunnaro used this sound wall behind the Lowe’s store in East Patchogue as an example of the type of barrier he’d like to see built at the Brixmor property in Riverhead. (Credit: Grant Parpan)