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Town Board, Farm Country Kitchen agree to settlement in lawsuit

A lawsuit filed by Riverhead Town against Farm Country Kitchen in 2012 is expected to be settled soon, according to Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter.

“They’ve pretty much gone through the Planning Board process, they’ve agreed with all the conditions the Planning Board has set and so we’re going to settle the litigation,” Mr. Walter said.

A Town Board resolution to authorize the proposed settlement, in which Farm County Kitchen owners Tom and Maria Carson will pay the town $7,500, was unanimously approved by the Town Board Tuesday.

However, it also will be contingent upon them obtaining final site plan approval from the Town Planning Board, Mr. Walter said.

“They will finish up their site plan and they will become a legal restaurant in the Town of Riverhead,” he said

The Town took Farm County Kitchen to state supreme court in 2012, claiming it only had permission for a take-out restaurant and was operating as a sit-down restaurant which didn’t have adequate parking.

The riverfront restaurant’s popularity added to the town’s concerns, as cars frequently backed into traffic trying to get out of the restaurant’s parking lot, and pedestrians who parked off site would often be crossing a busy Route 25.

Farm Country Kitchen last month was granted a one-year extension of a zoning variance it had previously received from the Riverhead Zoning Board of Appeals that allows an off-site parking lot that’s more that twice as far away from the main business as zoning permits, with valet service taking customers to and from that lot.

The variance gives Farm Country Kitchen approval to have a parking lot that’s 575 feet from the primary business, instead of the maximum 200 feet allowed by Town Code.

“It’s been a long, arduous battle with them, but they will have a legalized business soon,” Mr. Walter said.

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