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Town surveying residents for a second time about downtown projects

Riverhead Town has issued a second survey of what types of  attractions and development residents want to see in town.

The survey, which is now on the town’s website, is part of the development of a “Downtown Riverhead Pattern Book” that will “guide the development of future community character for the Main Street area,” according to Barry Long of Urban Design Associates, the company hired by the town to develop the Pattern Book. 

The first online survey was conducted February, about a month before the COVID-19 pandemic lead to most businesses being shut town. 

The results of that survey are now complete and can be seen on the town’s website.

While the second survey is “ready to roll,” officials didn’t think it was appropriate to do so in the middle of the pandemic, according to Councilwoman Catherine Kent, the board’s liaison to the Pattern Book. 

“We are planning on having the second survey go live this week, in order to get more community feedback from our downtown area,” she said at Thursday’s Town Board work session. “It’ll be up until June 15 at 5 PM.”

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said there are five major downtown projects that have been under review in the town planning department during the shutdown. Those are:

• 331 East Main Street, which is a proposed four-story mixed-use apartment complex on the site of the former Subway building.

• Long Island Science Center’s proposed expansion of the former Swezey’s building.

• Builder Wayne Steck’s proposal to demolish the former West Marine building and replace it with a four-story mixed-use building with 45 apartments on the top three floors and retail on the ground level. He’s calling it “Landmark of Riverhead.”

• Suffolk Theater’s proposal to add a five-story apartment complex with retail on the ground floor in back of the theater.

• A proposed art gallery on the property in between Barth’s Drugs and Haiku.

Ms. Giglio asked Mr Long if he was familiar with these projects. Mr. Long said he has seen all of those plans except the West Marine one, which he said was described to him. 

Mr. Long said all of those projects can proceed under current zoning, and all of them comply with the recommended zoning they propose. He said the town is considering enacting what’s known as form-based zoning downtown, which emphasizes the form of a building more so than the use. 

The first survey drew 1,249 responses and 75% of the respondents identified themselves as Riverhead Town residents, Mr. Long said. 

There also were two well-attended public forums pertaining the Pattern Book, he said.