Vinland Commons wants to add retail stores and offices to its Aquebogue shopping center — but those plans no longer include a 7-Eleven.
The application was before the Riverhead Zoning Board of Appeals last Thursday.
“7-Eleven is long gone, they are no longer interested, they were not willing to wait,” Vinland Commons attorney Patricia Stern told the ZBA at a hearing on their new proposal. “We are just asking for regular retail and office space, we’re not asking for a convenience store.”
It still won’t be clear sailing.
Vinland Commons’ latest proposal was rejected by the Riverhead Town building department, which says retail is not permitted in this section of the Rural Corridor zone, where this property is located.
RC zoning does allow retail on properties that front either side of Route 25 between South Jamesport and Washintgon avenues.
But Vinland Commons in on the northeast corner of Tuthill’s Lane and Route 25, and is seeking a ZBA variance on the grounds that a number of retail and office buildings have already been permitted in this area, including several that have been approved since the town changed the zoning to Rural Corridor.
Vinland Commons, headed by Clete Galasso of Jamesport, had sought to open a 7-Eleven at the site in 2016, but Riverhead Town changed its zoning to ban 24-hour operations in the RC zone. Vinland had threatened to file a lawsuit challenging the 24-hour ban, but never did.
Prior to that, Vinland had previously prevailed in challenging the town’s 2004 zoning change on the property from Rural Neighborhood Business, a zone that allowed retail,to Rural Corridor, which does not.
At the ZBA meeting, Marie LeBrun, who lives adjacent to Vinland Commons, told the board she’d like to see the current uses in the RC zone be maintained.
“A convenience store causes problems,” she said.
Her comment came before Ms. Stern confirmed that a convenience store is no longer planned.
William Van Helmond, president of the Greater Jamesport Civic Association, said it’s important to maintain rural character in the Jamesport, Aquebogue and Laurel hamlets.
Joan Zaniskey of Aquebogue noted that there are already retail uses in Vinland Commons. She said permits have been issued for uses that were not allowed. She clarified that she does not support permitting retail use permits or zoning at Vinland Commons.
The ZBA adjourned the hearing until its next meeting on Aug. 22.