Backers of Chicken Kidz children’s consignment sale at Polish Hall are now flooding Riverhead Town Board members with letters urging them to reconsider their decision to reject Chicken Kidz’ application for an April event.
The Town Board agreed to waive fines for a year for special permits when applications are not filed on time, because it revised its special permit rules in December and may have caught some applicants off guard.
But in the case of Chicken Kidz, Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said the fine waiver won’t help Chicken Kidz since it didn’t file its application on time under the new laws or the old ones.
She also said Chicken Kidz couldn’t just move the event indoors at Polish Hall because that use is not allowed under their certificate of occupancy.
Chicken Kidz is held twice a year at Polish Hall, according to Susan Biegner of Medford, who has held the event in Riverhead since 2012. She was told her event application was rejected this year because the application wasn’t submitted early enough.
Chicken Kidz, a for-profit organization, had planned to hold its four-day event from April 4-7, and about 1,200 people were expected over that time. She said 400 mothers sell items at the event.
Ms. Biegner said she has submitted her application late in the past and still been allowed to hold the event, and she said the town approves some events after they have already taken place.
“They have the ability to fix this,” Ms. Biegner said in an interview Friday. “They are choosing to go the easiest route and, unfortunately, that’s going to hurt a lot of people in their community.”
She said she’s already advertised the event at the time and location and cannot move it.
“Canceling the event, I’m going to have 400 moms and dads that are going to be able to benefit from this income stream that they rely on for vacations and dance lessons and whatever else they need for their families,” she said. “The majority of shoppers that come to the event are all from Riverhead and surrounding communities.”
The consignment event allows parents to sell their outgrown, new and “gently-used” children’s items, which are then resold at the event.
At least 17 letters in support of Chicken Kidz were emailed to Town Board members by Friday afternoon, and many were copied to the News-Review.
“Being on a budget, nearly all of what I buy for (my daughter) is from the Chickenkidz sale,” wrote Elleyna Albanse. “If you do not approve the application to hold it this April, I will not be able to afford to buy my daughter the clothes or shoes she needs.”
Allison Caserta wrote: “This sale is extremely helpful to many parents to acquire clothing and other necessities for their children at a low cost especially to those parents where retail shopping for those items is out of reach financially.”
Ms. Jens-Smith said that since the new special event rules were adopted as a local law, the Town Board couldn’t make an exception for Chicken Kidz even if it wanted to.
“In order to change a local law, we have to publish and post a notice of a public hearing, then have the public hearing, adopt the resolution, and then it would have to be duly registered with New York State before you can then act on that change,” she said, adding that the change likely could not be done by early April.
The underlying purpose of the amendment to the special events rules, which was passed unanimously by the Town Board Dec. 18, “was due to many applications being made that were either untimely or incomplete,” she said. The change aimed to establish more guidelines and strict deadlines, and has no exceptions and does not allow for an appeal for an application that was filed after the deadline, she said.
If the town wanted to change the law to add an appeal process, that also would require a public hearing and hearing notice before the change could be made, she said.
Ms. Jens-Smith said Chicken Kidz was advertising the April event in November of last year on Facebook.
Editor’s Note: This post was updated Sunday with additional comments from Supervisor Jens-Smith.