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Retaining wall proposed at former Riverhead Pizza Hut site

A retaining wall similar to Peconic Bay Medical Center is now being proposed to keep cars from hitting the former Pizza Hut building across the traffic circle from the hospital. 

Pizza Hut decided to ask out of its lease of more than 20 years near the Route 58/Roanoke Avenue traffic circle after two cars jumped the curb going around the circle and hit the building in separate incidents on May 15, 2015 and Sept. 17, 2016.

The next tenant for the building, STAT Health urgent care walk-in clinic, had proposed installing boulders along the traffic circle to protect the building from getting hit by additional cars.

Planners were not impressed.

“Now the driver is going to get killed,” Planning Board member Ed Densieski said back in March.

Richard Searles, the architect for the applicant, said at a Planning Board public hearing Thursday that his client is now proposing a retaining wall/barrier to keep the building from being struck by cars.

“It’s a wall similar to what they have at Peconic Bay Medical Center on Route 58,” Mr. Searles said. “We’re going to landscape it and elevate it.”

The PBMC wall is almost directly across the street from STAT Health.

“It sounds like we agree on the barrier  coming off the circle,” Planning Board chairman Stan Carey said. “That will look nice there.”

He said the planning department staff had recommended the retaining wall.

Mr. Searle said most of the work will be done inside the building.

STAT does plan to remove the roof “to take that the Pizza Hut look off and design the roof to be a more traditional style building.”

It also plans to put a small vestibule in the front of the building and bring the site access up to Americans With Disabilities Act standards, Mr. Searles said. The clinic also want to remove and repair a fence on the south side of the building. The only audience member to comment was Kevin Caulfield, a trustee at the Riverhead Masonic Lodge, just south of the former Pizza Hut site.

He requested the current wood stockade fence be replaced by a chain-link fence with privacy slats.

The current fence is an eyesore and has not been maintained, he said, and there are security problems on the property, with people trespassing onto the Lodge property and damaging or breaking into that property.

The STAT Health property has similar ownership to the adjacent Jiffy Lube, Pizza Hut and Friendly’s properties.

Mr. Caulfield said that since STAT Health is willing to repair their fence, he’d like to see Jiffy Lube do so as well, so there will be a continuous fence.

That was his only complaint about the application, Mr. Caulfield said.

Mr. Searles told the Planning Board his client has “serious time constraints” and asked the board to accelerate its approval, since there was only one comment.

“We’re paying very high rents on this building already because of the process we have to go through,” Mr. Searles said. “We thought we might have been able to get approval from an administrative review” rather that a full site plan application, he said.

Mr. Carey said the board will likely discuss some of the items that came up at the hearing at its work session in two weeks and would the get into the preliminary approval stage.

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