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Town considers legal action against Stop & Shop, Peapod

The Riverhead Town Board is considering filing a lawsuit against Stop & Shop and Peapod, the grocery delivery and pickup service, due to ongoing noise violations generated by that operation.

At Thursday’s Town Board work session, Councilwoman Jodi Gigio submitted a draft resolution for Tuesday’s regular meeting that would authorize legal action against Stop & Shop, and would authorize taking them to state supreme court, which carries greater fines than Town Justice Court.

“For 10 years, the residents of Glenwood Village have had to suffer with the delivery service of Peapod, which seems to be growing on a daily basis,” she said. “It has become a major distribution center. They have noise violations in Justice Court and there are other violations on the site that the town attorney is looking into.”

The resolution merely authorizes legal action, she said. It doesn’t require the town to file a lawsuit.

She asked that it be put on the agenda for Tuesday’s board meeting.

But Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith initially opposed doing so.

“This resolution is premature,” she said. “We had scheduled a meeting with them, which they did not attend Tuesday. They have agreed to attend a meeting and I think we should meet with them.”

Ms. Jens-Smith said Stop & Stop backed out of the first meeting because Glenwood Village owner Brian Stark attended with an attorney.

“Ten years is premature?” Mr. Stark asked the supervisor at Thursday’s work session. “We gave them a chance. They haven’t come for 10 years.”

The delivery service creates noise from banging doors on deliveries, radios playing, people dropping crates and refrigeration units running, he said.

Ms. Jens-Smith said they wanted to wait two weeks and give Stop & Shop a chance to present its plan to mitigate the noise problem, which they have submitted.

She questioned why the town hadn’t issued violations prior to 2017.

“I’m the tenth biggest taxpayer in the Town of Riverhead and I’ve been put off for 10 years by your town,” Mr. Stark said. “You should vote on it immediately. I’m not waiting on it another two weeks!”

“If they come in for a meeting and everything is resolved, we will not move forward with the supreme court action,” Ms. Giglio said. “If they don’t, we will go forward with the legal action.”

Stop & Shop was first approved in 2006 and that was amended in 2007 to include the supermarket and the Peapod delivery service, according to Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz.

Stop & Shop says in press releases that its Riverhead site is one of five “warerooms” it has on Long Island.

The five warerooms — the others being East Northport, Medford, South Setauket and Farmingdale — service all of Long Island.

Mr. Stark said in an interview that he feels the Peapod wareroom is a warehouse and is not a permitted use in the site where the supermarket it located.

Mr. Kozakiewicz said the approval called it an accessory delivery service to the supermarket.

The town issued noise violations to Stop & Shop on three different dates last year, he said.

While Ms. Jens-Smith and Councilwoman Catherine Kent had initially opposed the resolution to authorize legal action in state supreme court, saying the town should wait a week or two, they eventually agreed to do so.

“I’m OK to put the resolution in if everyone is in agreement with it,” Ms. Jens-Smith said.

Councilman Jim Wooten said he wouldn’t oppose the resolution, although he felt it might “have the horse has left the stable.”

Councilman Tim Hubbard said the resolution won’t cost the town anything.

“I think it shows them we’re serious,” he said.

“The only way you can talk to these people is if you bring the hammer down,” Mr. Stark said in an interview. “The town has the hammer and for whatever reason, they’ve stalled and procrastinated.”

He thinks a sound wall, such as the only installed behind Dicks Sporting Goods, could help.

But he said the delivery service has gotten bigger over the years, and now has about 35 trucks lined up in the morning.

Representatives from Stop & Shop could not immediately be reached for comment.

Photo caption: Peapod trucks outside the Riverhead store. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

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