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Town leaning toward dropping long-discussed Wading River ‘service road’

Nearly 30 years after the first recommendation to create a side road that runs parallel to a stretch of Route 25A in Wading River, the Riverhead Town Board appears ready to squash the idea. Instead, board members are leaning toward allowing future developers along the road just west of McDonald’s to link their parking lots.

Representatives behind the commercial site plan application for 6333 Realty Group were before the Town Board at Thursday’s work session. They urged board members to no longer consider an easement for the properties just west of Wading River-Manor Road. The applicants, who have proposed 8,160-square feet of construction on 1.3 acres, have been in the planning process for seven years.

Councilmembers Jodi Giglio, Jim Wooten and Tim Hubbard agreed that abandoning the easement is the way to go.

A 1988 Wading River Hamlet study had proposed creating an “access or service drive” for the commercial properties. It was meant to slow traffic and limit curb cuts along 25A. The service road would have run parallel to 25A and dropped cars going east onto Wading River-Manor Road.

But that idea fell apart back then because the town didn’t have the money to see it through, and curb cuts went in anyway, said architect Richard Searles, who was on the steering committee for the hamlet study. The town would have had to buy the property along the road and pay to build the road, Ms. Giglio said. In 2012, a Wading River Corridor Study also recommended the proposed road.

A second site application called Venezia Square calls for 40,000 square feet of construction on 6.3 acres. The 6333 Realty Group property could be connected to that development, Mr. Searles said.

Those access agreements would be requires by the Planning Board on site plans, Ms. Giglio said.

“You’re not losing anything,” Mr. Searles said. “You’re still going to connect these parcels from one side to the other side for internal traffic. It’s just that you’re not going to do it with a parallel roadway, so to speak, to 25A that is going to be used as a racetrack.”

The Town Board sought input from Wading River Association president Sid Bail, who was in attendance. Mr. Bail said he agrees with the current circumstances, but noted that wasn’t always the case, as residents had supported the service road after the hamlet study came out.

“We were very doggedly defending the [service road] concept over the years, but the concept doesn’t seem to work anymore,” he said. He also said he doesn’t see dumping traffic onto Wading River-Manor road as a traffic solution.

Additionally, Ms. Giglio and Mr. Searles said, the whole easement idea doesn’t work since McDonald’s ended up being built on the corner of 25A and Wading River-Manor Road. Its site plan didn’t incorporate the easement. The easement would also impact May’s Farm and a real estate office in between the McDonald’s and the 6333 Realty property.

Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith had asked about ways to retain the easements should the town need them in the future, but ultimately said it makes sense to give them up at this point.

“I think everyone’s pretty much OK with moving forward,” she said.

Councilwoman Catherine Kent said she wanted to process the plan more.

“I think there’s not a perfect solution,” she said.

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