Hearing on Riverhead Ciderhouse expansion postponed until March

A public hearing on Riverhead Ciderhouse’s plan to legalize portions of a building that were constructed without permits was canceled last Thursday because of what the applicant described as a simple misunderstanding. 

Town planner Matt Charters said applicant John King was required to provide the board with affidavits proving that public notice of the hearing was posted online and mailed out to nearby property owners. 

Mr. King apologized to the board and said that the required postings and mailing were completed, but “I just didn’t realize I was supposed to bring a receipt for it.” 

Without the affidavits, the Riverhead Town Planning Board lacked the jurisdiction to hold the hearing, which will have to be rescheduled — much to the dismay of a relatively large number of the residents who had come to speak on the matter.

Mr. Charters said the Mr. King will be required post a new notice and schedule a new hearing date. The town planner said the new hearing date will likely be scheduled for March 2, the Planning Board’s first meeting in March.

Riverhead Ciderhouse proposes to legalize a 1,294-square-foot expansion of an existing 3,186-square-foot outdoor patio area, for a total outdoor patio area of 4,480 square feet. 

The plan also calls for conversion of a portion a wine storage area into an additional tasting room space with a total area of 5,150 square feet. 

Additionally, the plan seeks permission to construct 36 additional parking spaces. The Riverhead Ciderhouse sits on a parcel of  311,396 square feet that is currently improved with a 108,178-square-foot single-story building containing processing, bottling and various agricultural storage areas. The lot is in the town’s Agricultural Protection Zone.

The board also apoligized to the many residents who had turned out Thursday night to voice their opinion on the Ciderhouse application. 

“We apologize but we did not know of this before the hearing,” Planning Board chair Joann Waski told those waiting to comment. “I literally just found out about this.” 

While the board allowed people to talk about the Riverhead Ciderhouse during a general comment session, the residents were told that their remarks would not be part of the official record for the public hearing. 

Still, their comments gave Mr. King a little advance peek at what a rescheduled public hearing might sound like. 

Linda Nemeth of Calverton said the Ciderhouse “promised not to get bigger and yet it continues to expand,” and contended that it is located on a very dangerous corner. 

“They’ve already built it, and now they’re looking for permission,” said Mike Foley of Reeves Park.”They are looking for forgiveness rather than permission.” 

“I’d like to say that this is a great business in our hamlet and that they really care about any of us, but you can’t say that,” said Toqhi Terchun, president of the Greater Calverton Civic Association.