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Neighbors say Riverhead doesn’t need another car wash

A proposal to build a car wash on the southeast corner of Route 58 and Pulaski Street Extension ran into some opposition from neighbors, who fear it will increase traffic on Pulaski Street, at a Riverhead Planning Board public hearing last Thursday.

The proposal has been reduced in size from an earlier version, which also included a restaurant and retail stores. Now it’s just a self-service car wash, but neighbors think it’s not a good fit.

The proposal is west of Riverhead Bay Motors and would have entrances and exits on Pulaski Street and Pulaski Street Extension.

The proposal calls for an existing residence owned by the Wilson family to be demolished to make room for the car wash. An existing car wash exists at the Mobil just west of Pulaski Street Extension.

“This is the third car wash in a two-mile radius,” said local resident Kathy Gayda.

“We don’t need three car washes,” added Elizabeth Densieski of Riverhead.

Ms. Densieski said traffic has worsened in the area since people started moving east to avoid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Neighbor Peter Guardino, Ms. Gayda’s husband, said people already ignore the stop sign at the intersection of Pulaski Street and Pulaski Street extension, creating a dangerous situation.

“There’s also a situation with trucks from the Honda dealership (on Pulaski Street) and trucks from Riverhead Building Supply coming around those turns,” he said. “It feel that it’s going to be a major problem there.”

In addition to neighbors complaining about the impact on traffic, representatives of Riverhead Bay Motors were critical of a prior decision to allow a cross access agreement, which allows cars to go from the car wash site to either the Chipotle’s restaurant or Lowe’s without coming back on Route 58.

Robert Esnard, the attorney for Riverhead Bay Motors, said “we really didn’t understand” the impact the cross easement would have on them when they agreed to it several years ago, when the car dealership was approved.

Martin Sendlewski, the architect for the applicant, said they have no need for the cross east. He said they could agree to providing it in the future if necessary, while not building it now.

Jeff Murphree, the town’s building and planning administrator, said the request for the cross easement came from the town fire marshal.

Walter Dunn, the traffic consultant for the applicant, said the state Department of Transportation did not require a traffic study because it was not considered a high amount of traffic that would be generated by the car ward.

“We think we’ve looked at the concerns that were expressed here and that we’ve handled them as best as can be done,” he said.