Riverhead Ciderhouse will remain open; outdoor music, events prohibited

Riverhead Ciderhouse will remain open after the Riverhead Planning Board approved an amended site plan for the Sound Avenue tasting room. 

The site plan for the business, which previously opened under a temporary approval, was approved after its owner agreed to not allow outdoor music or events.

“We took the outdoor speakers down two weeks ago,” said John King, who owns the Ciderhouse, which is located in part of his 108,178-square foot Grapes and Greens building.

The Planning Board had indicated at its Oct. 19 meeting that it would not permit outdoor music, live or otherwise. The Planning Board approval also prohibits outdoor events at the Ciderhouse, according to Jeff Murphree, the town’s building and planning administrator.

Riverhead Ciderhouse had previously installed two speakers outdoors, playing pre-recorded music.

Grapes and Greens was initially proposed in 2012 as a processing and storing facility for local farms and vineyards in the former Blackman Plumbing warehouse.

The Long Island Farm Bureau, which had secured a $500,000 state grant, rented space in the Grapes and Greens building for three years, but is no longer there, according to Mr. King. Grapes and Greens received site plan approval for that project in 2015.

The Ciderhouse was first proposed in 2014, calling for the “processing and retail sale and tasting of hard cider,” according to the town.

It initially ran into opposition from some residents, who complained about noise and traffic being generated by the facility.

Residents continued their criticism in early September of this year, saying Mr. King’s amended site plan application was seeking approval for things he had already built without approval.

Phil Barbato, president of the Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition, pointed out that the 2015 approval prohibited restaurants, special events and outside music.

“Now it looks like we are dipping into those areas,” he said Thursday night.

Planning Board chairman Stan Carey said the Planning Board already ruled that the Ciderhouse is not a full-service restaurant and cannot have outdoor events or music.

“This thing has morphed many, many times and I just hope you take that into consideration before you let it morph even further,” Mr. Barbato said.

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