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Farm Country Kitchen receives final site plan approval

The controversial Farm Country Kitchen restaurant on West Main Street is now legal, as the Riverhead Town Planning Board on Thursday granted final site plan approval for the business, which had been in court with the town since 2012.

The vote was 4-1, with member Ed Densieski opposed.

“I hate to go against a businessman, but for safety reasons, I just can’t vote for this,” Mr. Densieski said.

In 2012, the town said the popular Riverfront business had approvals only as a take-out deli and was illegally being operating as a sit-down restaurant. Town officials also said the business didn’t have enough parking and presented a danger, with cars backing out into Route 25 and pedestrians crossing the street.

The breakthrough came in mid-July, when the Town Board approved a settlement in the lawsuit.

A condition of the settlement was that the application receive final site plan approval from the Planning Board, which occurred Thursday, when it was giving approval for the switch from a take-out establishment to a 69-seat restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating.

The town also required Farm Country Kitchen to provide valet parking to take customers to and from a 37-stall asphalt parking area on Sweezy Avenue, just south of the railroad tracks, for which the applicant had previously received Zoning Board of Appeals approvals.

The applicant also is being required by the state Department of Transportation to install a flashing light that pedestrians can activate when they are crossing West Main Street to get to and from the restaurant. The light is just east of West Main Street’s intersection with Marcy Avenue.

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Photo credit: Nicole Smith