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Town considers payment in lieu of parking fee for downtown developments

Developers of new downtown Riverhead apartment buildings could soon be required to pay a fee if they don’t provide enough parking.

The town’s parking advisory committee has recommended the new fee — known as “payment in lieu of parking” or “PILOP,” as a way to fund parking initiatives.

Councilman Tim Hubbard, who is the Town Board liaison to the parking committee, said during Thursday’s work session that PILOP is done in several communities, including East Hampton and Patchogue.

He suggested the one-time fee should be $1,500 per required parking space a development fails to provide.

“With the situation that we have, or will be experiencing downtown with the lack of parking with new apartments coming in, this is a way to raise some revenue for the parking district to actually purchase future parking spaces and/or money for a parking garage,” Mr. Hubbard said.

He described the PILOP program as purchasing “virtual parking spaces” and said he wished something like this was done a decade ago since the downtown is “getting close to the build-out.”

“The parking district is woefully underfunded,” he added.

While the PILOP program was also suggested for commercial businesses, Supervisor Sean Walter said he believes it should start with residential spots and a public hearing should be held to discuss the plan.

Since businesses already pay parking district taxes, the town will have to look into the legality of requiring them to also pay PILOP fees, he added.

If the Town Board enacts the PILOP program, then those fees should only be applied to projects that don’t already have site plan approval, Town Board members agreed at Thursday’s work session.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said she believes developers should just provide the amount of parking they’re required to. Although she agrees the PILOP program could generate funds to pay for parking initiatives, she said she questions how far those one-time fees will go.

Mr. Hubbard said he agrees the town should be tough on new apartment building developers to provide enough parking. However, he added PILOP is a good solution if they can’t.

“The whole thing with the parking district is there’s no one answer to solve the problem down there,” Mr. Hubbard said, whether it be through condemnation, a parking garage, parking meters or PILOP.

“We’ve looked at that map and it is what it is,” he added. “There’s only so much you’re going to be able to do.”

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Photo: Councilman Tim Hubbard discussing the PILOP program at Thursday’s work session. (Credit: Kelly Zegers)