Riverhead Ford is seeking permission to clear 187,000 square feet of woodland behind its Route 58 dealership in order to store cars and create an access road to Pulaski Street.
Owner Leo Sternlicht and general manager Tom Williams discussed the proposal with the Riverhead Town Planning Board last Thursday. A public hearing is scheduled for Sept. 7 at 7 p.m.
Mr. Sternlicht has a 4.2-acre Ford Lincoln auto showroom and a 5.2-acre Buick GMC showroom on the property, along with 4.4 acres of woodland that fronts Pulaski Street.
Currently, delivery trucks pull into the dealership from Route 58.
“The real concern here is to have access onto Pulaski Street for car carriers,” Mr. Williams said. “Due to the volume of cars we have coming and going now, it’s a real hazzard on Route 58. Somebody’s going to get hurt. I’ve got tractor trailers parking in the turn lane. I’ve got tractor trailers backing into Route 58.”
The idea, Mr. Williams said, is to have the trucks exit the dealership through the proposed road to Pulaski Street. From there they could get back onto Route 58 from an intersection that has a traffic signal.
The site plan shows the road as a 28-foot-wide paved driveway, but Mr. Williams said he doesn’t think a paved driveway is needed.
Planning Board chairman Stan Carey asked if there was “anything to be concerned about” with the tree clearing, such as proximity to the Pine Barrens or other environmentally sensitive areas.
Environmental planner Jeff Seeman said there are no environmentally restricted conditions.
“Tree clearing in this town is a very sensitive issue,” Mr. Carey said, referring to the controversial tree clearing at the Costco/Brixmore site on Route 58 in 2012.
Planning aide Greg Bermann said there are freshwater wetlands on part of the property, which the planning department recommends fencing off.
There also will be a natural wooded buffer left between the proposed cleared area and Stotzky Park, he said.
Photo credit: Tim Gannon