The proposed sound wall between Brixmor Property Group’s 120,000-square-foot shopping center on Route 58 and the residents of the Millbrook Community now appears to be shrinking from 12 feet to 10.
At its previous meeting, members of the Riverhead Town Planning Board asked for a 12-foot high wall on the northeast side of their 41-acre property, instead of the six-foot wall they previously required.
But Planning Board chairman Stan Carey said on Thursday that planners and a representative of the Millbrook Community visited the site and agreed that 10 feet was a better height.
“Ten feet looks appropriate to us and the [Millbrook Community] caretaker seems to be accepting of it,” Mr. Carey said. “Twelve feet was too much. From the mobile homes [in Millbrook], which are lower than the development site, it looks monstrous.”
He said that looking east from where Costco is, “a 12-foot wall would look like a massive barrier on the Long Island Expressway. We’re trying to tone it down.”
The site plan must be approved before the height of the wall becomes official, but the developers requested the wall to be approved first to move the project along.
“We’d like to start as soon as we can,” said Bill Greimel, Brixmor’s vice president of construction, at Thursday’s meeting. “It’s very critical to us. We’ve got lease dates that are really coming upon us and we’re concerned about not being within the obligations we’ve signed up for.”
Construction of the wall will take about a month, he said.
To date, Costco Wholesale is the only operating store in the shopping center, which is called The Shops at Riverhead. Brixmor has said new prospective tenants could include Ulta Beauty, PetSmart, Marshalls and HomeGoods.
Mr. Carey said he wanted to consult with attorneys to find out if the board can approve the wall separately. He said it could set a precedent.
“I’m not aware of the town ever approving just a wall like that,” he said.
Jeff Murphree, the town’s building and planning administrator, said Brixmor would still need a site plan for the wall.
Brixmor also is asking for another change in the plan.
When it first proposed in 2012, the application called for a “balanced cut and fill,” which means no sand or materials would be brought on or off the site, and it would all be reused within the property. Brixmor got permission from the town to do that, and to clear cut the entire property at the outset, even though no building was immediately planned on the north portion of the land.
Now, they want permission to remove some of the excess sand on the property.
Chris Kent, an attorney for Brixmor, said an estimated 31,500 cubic yards of sand will need to be removed, which would take between 1,000 and 1,500 truck loads over a two-to-three month period.
The change was necessitated because Brixmor is seeking to lower an area by the loading docks by four feet.
Mr. Murphree said this will require Brixmor to pay the town a fee of $2 per cubic yard removed from the property to comply with town law.
“There’s a lot more information we’re going to need to get from the applicant as far as the overall site,” Mr. Murphree said. “We’ll need information on grading, drainage, a road widening plan and further revisions to landscaping plan. We’re just not going to be able to approve this before the next meeting.”
Photo caption: Riverhead Town Planning Board member George Nunnaro had previously 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)