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Saved at the buzzer: Chicken Kidz’ consignment sale can proceed

Chicken Kidz’ popular children’s consignment sale at Polish Hall will go on as scheduled after all.

The Riverhead Town Board amended its special events law Thursday, which will allow the consignment sale to be held on its original dates of April 4-7.

The special meeting Thursday was made possible by the effort from supporters of the consignment sale, which allows people to buy and sell used children’s clothing and other times, after the Town Board rejected Chicken Kidz’ application last week. The for-profit organization had missed the deadline in the wake of a new special events chapter that the board approved in December. Those new rules were created, in part, because applicants were filing event permits late, officials said.

“I want to say thank you for everything the Town Board has done,” said Susan Biegner of Medford, who has held the event twice a year in Riverhead since 2012. “Particularly Councilwoman [Jodi] Giglio, who was the driving force behind this.”

More than 30 Chicken Kidz backers attended Thursday’s special meeting ready to urge approval of the code change. A public hearing will be held April 2 on an amnesty clause to push back the starting date of the new special events code to June 18. The board unanimously approved scheduling the April 2 hearing.

The board on Thursday first went into an executive session, at the suggestion of Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz, and when it emerged, it made further changes that benefited the Chicken Kidz’ application.

One of the changes deleted the entire section on application fees.

The changes would be effective at the time of the adoption, and would not have to wait to be authorized by the state, officials said.

Ms. Giglio said she asked Mr. Kozakiewicz to draw up a proposed law for a special meeting Thursday to schedule the April 2 public hearing. She said only Mr. Hubbard and Councilman Jim Wooten, also Republicans, supported holding Thursday’s special meeting.

Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said no one questioned that Chicken Kidz is a positive event. But she said that when applications for special events are submitted late and close to the date of the event, it puts a strain on town employees who are trying to ensure everything is safe.

Councilman Tim Hubbard likened the situation to “offsetting penalties” in football. He said the town could have done a better job of notifying people of the changes in its special events law and Chicken Kidz could have done a better job of getting their application in on time.

Officials said the special event law had not been changed in more than 20 years.

“I would caution using something like this as a political football,” Councilwoman Catherine Kent said. “It’s offensive on a local level.”

Jennifer Stepnoski of Aquebogue said that Chicken Kidz is not only beneficial for Polish Hall, which leased the space, but it also brings foot traffic to downtown Riverhead and benefits the people selling the clothes, as well as the people buying them, who might not have been able to afford the same items new.

Ms. Biegner had already advertised the event before obtaining the permits. She had said about 1,200 people attend the consignment sale over the multiple days and many of them are mothers selling or buying clothing that no longer fits their children.

After the application was originally denied and backers began urging the Town Board to reconsider, Ms. Jens-Smith had said that if the Town Board wanted to change the law it adopted last December, it would need to post a public hearing notice, have the public hearing, and then adopt the law on the same night as the hearing, which would be April 2.

Photo caption: Jennifer Stepnoski of Aquebogue speaks in front of an audience filled with Chicken Kidz supporters Thursday. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

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