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Shops at Riverhead gets preliminary approval

The 120,450-square foot shopping center proposed by Brixmor Property Group took a step forward Thursday afternoon, when the Riverhead Town Planning Board granted preliminary site plan approval.

Dubbed “The Shops at Riverhead,” the proposed 41-acre shopping center on the north side of Route 58 has had a rocky track record with neighbors and town officials over the years, but things now appear on track.

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

The project, which still requires final site plan approval before construction can begin, was first launched in 2012 when the Costco Warehouse store was approved and built on property it purchased from Brixmor, which owns the rest of the shopping center. Prior to that, the developer had received approval from the Riverhead Town Board to clear cut the entire lot of all trees in anticipation of future development, which would require the purchase of farmland development rights.

That led to complaints from neighbors about the degree of the cutting and the amount of sand that flew onto their properties during construction.

The original plan also called for a “balanced cut and fill,” in which no sand or material would be removed or imported to the site.

The new plan calls for the removal of about 31,500 cubic yards of sand.

Among the conditions being included in the preliminary site plan approval are:

• The construction of a 10-foot high sound wall along 200 feet on the eastern border, to protect neighbors in the adjacent Millbrook Community, who had suggested the wall.

• Shade trees that are at least 3 1/2 inches thick.

• A dust control plan during construction to protect neighbors.

• The inclusion of electric charging stations for cars in five parking spots.

• Review by the town’s Architectural Review Board.

• Wildflowers planted to stabilize the northern open space portion of the property, which was original slated for development, but is no longer. Irrigation also is required in this area, to prevent the plantings from dying, as has happened with prior plantings.

Planing Board member Ed Densieski still voiced skepticism over the project.

“With all due respect to the applicant, we were told certain things last time that weren’t enforced,” he said. “We don’t want to go through it again, we really don’t.”

“We can tighten things up in the final approval if we’re not satisfied with their responses,” town building and planning administrator Jeff Murphree said. “This is just my first round of conditions. There will be another round in the final approval.”

Chris Kent, the attorney for Brixmor, said they are in agreement with the conditions.

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