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Farm Country Kitchen granted extension to gain remainder of approvals

Farm Country Kitchen was granted a third extension on a set of Riverhead Zoning Board of Appeals variances Thursday. 

The variances allow the popular restaurant on West Main Street to have a parking lot that is 575 feet away from the building, whereas town zoning only allows detached parking to be up to 200 feet away. The current extension will expire on June 9, 2020.

The parking lot, located on Sweezy Avenue, just south of the railroad tracks,  also will have valet parking service, which is not permitted on residential parking and required another variance.

The third variance gives Farm Country Kitchen permission to attach a front vestibule to a structure with a front yard depth of 7 feet, instead of the normally required 25 feet.

The ZBA vote was 4-0 with Lisa Worthington absent.

Peter Danowski, the attorney for Farm Country Kitchen, said they have site plan approval for the parking lot and for a new sidewalk on Sweezy Avenue. They also have site plan approval for a lighted crosswalk across Route 25 to the restaurant.

However, Mr. Danowski said they have not begun construction because they still need a building permit for a deck, along with the extended ZBA approval.

Mr. Danowski said the deck plans were submitted Thursday.

“I’d like to think this could be turned around very fast,” he said. “But you never know.”

The town brought a lawsuit in state supreme court against Farm Country Kitchen in 2012 claiming the business lacked adequate permits and was operating as a sit-down restaurant when it only had approvals for a take-out restaurant.

A 2017 settlement required the restaurant owners to pay a $7,500 fine, but also was contingent on them getting town approvals for the restaurant improvements.

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