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ZBA grants variance to Twin Fork Beer Company for plan to accommodate more social distancing

Twin Fork Beer Company just needed some space at its Raynor Avenue brewery and tasting room for social distancing. And, courtesy of Riverhead’s Zoning Board of Appeals, they got it last Thursday night. 

Officially, Twin Fork was seeking variances that would allow them to create 1,650 square feet of gross floor area for retail use in a wholesale businesses, as town code allows only up to 1,148 square feet in this instance. 

“The purpose is to increase our allowable use in the tasting room by 3% to accommodate social distancing in our tasting room and our brewery,” said Dan Chekijian, who owns the business with his twin brother, Peter. “We feel that this is an insignificant increase in the allowable use and it’s only been 3% and we feel it’s something you should entertain.”

“When COVID is over are you going to put it back to where it’s supposed to be?” asked ZBA member Leroy Barnes. “We’d like the variance permanently,” Mr. Chekijian said. “We are not necessarily looking for an increase in occupancy, we just feel it would be safer” for patrons to have the additional space. 

“To me, it appears to be a good thing,” Mr. Barnes said. “I’d be happy to grant it.” 

The rest of the board also approved, voting 4-0 in favor of the variance, with one member absent.