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Town Board debates where to allow car storage

Riverhead Town officials have been considering changes to the town’s zoning code that would allow car dealerships to store vehicles in industrially zoned areas through a special permit use.

But the type of industrial zone they should be permitted in is an issue that arose during a Town Board work session Thursday.

The code committee had recommended allowing car storage in the Industrial A zone, which covers land from Edwards Avenue to the eastern boundary of Splish Splash and includes an area near Manor Road. Under town code, the Industrial A zone accommodates for more intense uses including warehouses and lumber yards.

The committee has also discussed allowing for car storage in the Industrial C zone, which spans from Edwards Avenue to the Enterprise Park at Calverton.

That zone allows for lighter, more “benign” uses, according to town building and planning administrator Jefferson Murphree.

But Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said she had some concerns over including Industrial C in the proposed code change.

“I think to do A and C at the same time is allowing this permitted use in a very large portion of town,” she said, noting that some of the Industrial C properties are adjacent to residential zones, such as on Pulaski Street.“I would like to see that developed in a different manner than just car storage.”

She said starting out with a special permit for Industrial A is a “more prudent” way to go.

Both council members Jim Wooten and Jodi Giglio said car storage is more appropriate in the Industrial C zone.

Ms. Giglio said car dealerships have reached “desperation” over the issue, and the Industrial A zone alone doesn’t meet their needs.

She’d rather see Industrial A used for their codified purposes.

“If what happens at EPCAL is supposed to happen, I see all the Industrial A properties along [Route 25] getting filled in with manufacturers in support of what’s going to go at EPCAL,” Ms. Giglio said. “I don’t want to lock up [the industrial zone] for car storage when it could have the heavier uses.”

Ms. Giglio also supports allowing structures to be built at the storage sites, such as a booth to allow vehicles to be checked in and out.

Councilwoman Catherine Kent said the issue deserves action and another discussion at a code committee meeting with representatives of the dealerships present.

“We want to work with the car dealerships because they are good neighbors to us in Riverhead, but want to take a look because we don’t want to look at a sea of cars,” she said.

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