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Town discusses plan to improve Edwards Avenue/Route 25 intersection

A notoriously bad intersection could see some improvement under a plan being discussed by Riverhead Town officials, the owner of the former Village Crossroads property and the state.

Michael Nardy, the CEO of Electronic Payments, the company that now operates out of the former restaurant building on the southeast corner of Edwards Avenue and Route 25 in Calverton, has made an offer to deed that property to the state. That would allow state officials to demolish the building and its parking lot and add turning lanes to the intersection to make it safer, according to Riverhead Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith.

Mr. Nardy would in turn build a new office building on the vacant property just south of his current location, which he also owns, and move his operation there.

In order for that to happen, the Town would need to issue a zone change, from Industrial A to Industrial C, because the latter permits offices and the current zone does not.

The new office could be up to 28,000-square feet, officials said.

The intersection of Edwards Avenue and Route 25 has historically been bad, with traffic often backed up for miles at rush hour.

The east side of Edwards Avenue — where this proposal is located — is mostly zoned Industrial A and the west side is mostly Industrial C.

“He’s considering it,” Charles Cuddy, the attorney for Mr. Nardy, said in an interview. “We’ve talked about it with the town and the supervisor and it’s something he’s working on. I don’t think it’s completely fleshed our yet, but I think we’ll know more in the next week to 10 days.”

The four-acre vacant property just south of the former restaurant site has been zoned Industrial A for more than 50 years and nothing has ever been built there, Mr. Cuddy said.

The town Zoning Board of Appeals in 2011 approved a use variance — which allows a use that’s not allowed by zoning — to a bank and pharmacy on the site, but it was never built.

In October 2017, Mr. Nardy sought a ZBA use variance for the same property in order to build an office but the ZBA unanimously voted it down, saying the town “specifically excluded office as a permitted use in the Industrial A zone,” and that the ZBA would “effectively be granting a change of zone” by allowing it.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said she feels the town should require the intersection work to be done as part of the site plan process.

Although Route 25 is a state road, Ms. Giglio said “it will never get done,” if the town waits for the state to do the road work.

“The state doesn’t have any money,” she said. “If it’s part of a site plan, we can get it done now.”

Deputy Town attorney Ann Marie Prudenti said she believes the state is responsible for this intersection.

“I would prefer the state pay for the traffic study and any traffic pattern analysis and that they design the improvements,” she said.

There is no site plan application filed yet, but the Town Board is planning to vote on a resolution Tuesday to declare itself the “lead agency” in the review of the zone change proposal, and to schedule a public hearing at the Aug. 7 Town Board meeting, which starts at 2 p.m.

Ms. Giglio also expressed concern that all the other Industrial A properties on Edwards Avenue would seek to become Industrial C if the town permits the zone change.

Ms. Prudenti said that most of the Industrial A properties on Edwards Avenue have offices now.

Ms. Giglio said the resolution must make it clear that the zone change is being considered because of the intersection improvements. She’d also like the applicant to get a cross easement onto Miller Road, so that traffic from the proposed office could enter and exit Edwards Avenue without needing a new curb cut.

“We need to get that intersection taken care of,” Councilman Tim Hubbard said. “That’s the most important thing.”

Photo caption: A view of Electronic Payments at the Edwards Avenue/Route 25 intersection in Calverton. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

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