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Peconic Paddler owners scale back proposed project

The new owners of Peconic Paddler say they have greatly reduced the size of a proposed project that originally featured a hotel, restaurant and bar.

The reduced plan would now include a renovated Peconic Paddler building on the one-acre Peconic Avenue site and a new, one-story cafe/coffee shop. However, the site plan application still shows the hotel and restaurant as a “phase two” of the project.

The new owners, Fredette Svendsen LLC — a group headed by Tom Fredette, James Svendsen and Brendan Fredette — bought the property from longtime owner Jim Dreeben in April 2017 for $700,000.

Meanwhile, the Riverhead Business Improvement District Management Association voted unanimously Wednesday to oppose a request from the owners to hook into Riverhead Town’s sewer district in order to allow a hotel and restaurant.

The property is located within Southampton Town, which means the Southampton Town Planning Board must act on the plans. But Fredette Svendsen also have asked Riverhead Town to be able to tap into its sewer plant, since the Riverhead sewer line already runs past Peconic Paddler.

Riverhead Town officials say the only out-of-town connections to the Riverhead sewer system are the Suffolk County Center, jail and courts.

“And we have a hard time getting them to pay,” Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said at Thursday’s work session.

Southampton officials have been planning a sewer system in Riverside but work has not begun on that project. Tom Fredette said they are seeking to hook up to Riverhead’s sewer on a temporary basis until Southampton builds its system.

The current Peconic Paddler site. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

The BIDMA on Wednesday night agreed to an opinion in opposition of allowing Fredette Svendsen to tap into the town’s sewer line.

“Our downtown and the area surrounding the train station are not at full build-out and sewer capacity should be prioritized for development within these areas,” BIDMA president Steve Shaugher wrote in a letter to the Town Board.

“We also shared concerns about the negative impact the development will have on downtown businesses. The most recent proposal for the restaurant and hotel has a very limited on-site parking, and patrons of these businesses will take up spots within downtown Riverhead, rather than navigate around the busy Riverside circle. The BIDMA would like to see Riverside move in a positive direction but it shouldn’t be at the expense of downtown businesses and our revitalization efforts,” Mr. Shauger’s letter concluded.

While Fredette Svendsen said it is reducing the size of its project, which once called for a five-story hotel, its site plan still shows the hotel as a “phase 2” of the development.

Mr. Shaugher, who is the general manager of Hyatt Place Long Island in downtown Riverhead, has invited the owners to the next BIDMA meeting on April 17 to discuss their plans further.

Brendan Fredette, Tom’s son, as well as an attorney, said the hotel “is a future hypothetical.” In the event that Southampton Town “ever builds the Riverside sewer district,” that’s when they will consider the hotel, he said.

He added that Southampton Town officials urged them to include phase 2 in their site plan so as not to fragment the review.

He said they plan to build a cafe/coffee shop with 24 seats, in addition to building a new Peconic Paddler building.

The project would handle 600 gallons per day in sewer flow, Mr. Fredette said. But Michael Reichel, the town’s sewer district superintendent, said he computed the numbers and came up with a gallon-per-day flow of 800.

Brendan Fredette said if their numbers are wrong, they will “design down” to meet the 600 gallons per day number.

Mr. Reichel said the questions the town had initially are the same, regardless of the size of the project.

“It’s still an out-of-district connection,” he said.

“For me, it’s about the Town of Riverhead,” Councilman Tim Hubbard said. “We are trying to rebuild our town.”

He said Southampton Town officials “have kicked Riverside to the curb for years and year sand years.” Southampton officials said the sewer district would be done in 2020 but they haven’t even put a shovel in the ground yet, Mr. Hubbard said.

“You understand we have to give priority to our business owners,” Councilwoman Catherine Kent said.

Brendan Fredette said the project is not about Southampton or Riverhead town.

“This is 100 percent about the environment,” he said. The smaller project can be built right now under current zoning using traditional cesspools, he said, but they would rather do the development in a way that protects the environment and the Peconic River.

He said they environment creating a synthesis with adjacent Grangebel Park to the north of Peconic Paddler and the Southampton Town parkland to the south of Peconic Paddler.

Tom Fredette said they have purchased property on Riverleigh Avenue that can provide 60 parking spaces, and they also can use the Southampton Town parking lot across the street from Peconic Paddler, or the parking at the county center, if needed.

Top photo caption:Brendan (left) and Tom Fredette and James Svendsen spoke at Thursday’s work session. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

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