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An easier way to view planning and building applications in Riverhead

Riverhead officials are planning to post planning and building applications on the town’s website once the town requires all new applications to be filed online, in accordance with a recent state law.

Town Board members discussed the change at last Thursday’s work session.

“People are always asking us about projects in the community,” said Councilwoman Catherine Kent.

Town building and planning administrator Jefferson Murphree cautioned board members not to get into a lengthy discussion about pending applications because the Town Board had not notified those applicants that their projects would be discussed at the work session.

Even so, the number of applications that could be discussed was significant.

Mr. Murphree said there are currently 11 commercial special permit applications, as those are issued to downtown apartment complexes; 108 total site plan applications, and seven major subdivisions before the Planning Board.

The Town of Southold currently allows planning and zoning applications to be viewed at no charge on its website.

Mr. Murphree said once Riverhead completes the requirement for applicants to file applications digitally, it will be easy to allow residents to view them outside of Town Hall.

Board members specifically discussed the 16-year-old requirement that limits that number of downtown mixed-use apartments, and how to enforce the cap.

Mr. Murphree said the town is nearing the 500-unit cap on downtown apartments.

“So what do we do about that?” Councilwoman Jodi Giglio asked. “Are we asking them to request the number of units proposed in order to meet the 500 requirement?”

Mr. Murphree said that section of the code was poorly written in 2004 and will need to be rewritten. There are currently three projects with a total of 116 units that have been approved, although others are close to approval.

Another issue discussed last Thursday was what to do about applications that were filed several years ago, which never received approvals and now languish.

Ms. Giglio said the town had proposed a law to deal with such instances. It’s unclear what happened to that proposal.

Ms. Giglio said many of these proposed zoning and building changes can be addressed in the town’s upcoming master plan update. Officials have hoped those changes can begin in 2021.