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Luxury apartment building proposal faces opposition at public hearing

A proposal to build a four-story luxury apartment building in downtown Riverhead ran into opposition at a public hearing last Wednesday, when several speakers said the building doesn’t fit in with its surroundings.

331 East Main Street LLC, a subsidiary of G2D Development in Huntington, has pitched its plan as a market-rate apartment complex at the site where a Subway restaurant used to be located.

The proposal requires both site plan and special permit approval from the town.

Chris Kent, the attorney for the applicant, said the plan calls for 36 parking spaces on the ground floor and 10 one-bedroom and 26 two-bedroom apartments. The building was originally planned for five stories and 44 units, but was scaled down, he said.

Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said the town already has several affordable apartments downtown, and said market-rate housing is what the town is now looking for.

Greg DeRosa, CEO of G2D Development, said market-rate housing rarely results in children being sent to the local school district, and in the projects he has built or managed, no children have been enrolled in local schools.

“The first thought that comes to mind is 50 pounds being shoved into a 10-pound bag,” said Janice Scherer of Baiting Hollow. She said the town’s recent investment in a downtown “pattern book” was to “right size” the buildings in downtown.

“We’ve already had the five-story building,” she said. “Let’s not do a repeat.”

Ms. Scherer said the proposed building doesn’t match anything downtown.

“You have these tiny little buildings and then this massive building,” she said.

Mr. Kent said there are several large buildings in the area where the apartments are proposed, including the Hyatt Place hotel, the Sea Star Ballroom and The Preston House & Hotel.

Barbara Blass of Jamesport said she agreed with Ms. Scherer and added that the public was at a disservice because the town didn’t post the site plan map.

William Van Helmond, president of the Greater Jamesport Civic Association, said he was glad the applicant scaled down the project but added that the proposed building “doesn’t really conform in downtown Riverhead.”

Stephanie Ranghelli of Riverhead said the proposal doesn’t look like it reflects any history.

“To me, it just says ‘housing,’ ” she said.

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