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05/29/15 6:05am
05/29/2015 6:05 AM

The historic Jedediah Hawkins Inn got another temporary reprieve from the Riverhead Town Zoning Board Thursday night to allow it to hold outdoor catered events at the Jamesport restaurant, but it came with a number of conditions aimed at addressing the issue long term.

Because the town code only allows indoor catering – and not outdoor catering – as a permitted “accessory use” to restaurants, the Inn has had to seek a variance from the ZBA annually for the past eight years in order to hold outdoor events. Those variances have been granted, but with conditions.

Neighbors have complained about noise from those outdoor events at prior ZBA hearings.

At one point several years ago, the Town Board discussed changing the zoning to address these issues, but it never did.

On Thursday, the ZBA voted 4-1 in favor of the application, with board member Frank Seabrook casting the lone dissenting vote.

“It seemed to me that the negative impacts of noise from more outdoor events should not be a burden placed on this quiet residential community,” he said after the vote. “In spite of the beautiful restoration work done to that property, and the benefit of that restoration to the community, I could not find a reason to support this appeal. In this community, it is my opinion, that events should be held indoors.”

Pam Hunt, a representative for the Inn, told the ZBA at earlier hearings that the catering hall would have difficulty staying in business without the outdoor events.

Ms. Hunt also presented the ZBA with an online petition signed by more than 900 people in support of the Inn.

The approval granted Thursday allows the Inn to hold outdoor catered events until Nov. 30, 2016, but states: “The applicant is to retain counsel and make a formal written application to the Town of Riverhead Town Board on or before December 1, 2015 requesting a change of zone and or modification of the existing zone to permit catering outside of the principal structure.”

Among other conditions:

• Catering for outdoor events will only be permitted within a completely enclosed tent.

• The Inn will be limited to three outdoor events per month, and no more than one per day, and the events will not be permitted on weekday nights when school in session.

• Events cannot start earlier than noon or end later than 9:30 p.m., and there will be a limit of 125 guests per event.

•Sound levels at outdoor events must be in compliance with the town noise ordinance.

• The Inn will be required to keep a catering manager on site for the duration of outdoor events and that his or her name and cell phone number be conspicuously posted on the Inn’s website for the purpose of responding to noise complaints.

“All of us at Jedediah Hawkins Inn are grateful for the overwhelming show of support from our friends and neighbors, and to the ZBA members who voted to let us continue to serve them,” Ms. Hunt said after the vote. “We are hopeful that by continuing to do business in a responsible manner, we will reassure the few who opposed us.”

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05/14/15 11:00am
05/14/2015 11:00 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The main building at the  Jededian Hawkins Inn in Jamesport.

The main building at the Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Jamesport. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

An online petition to “Save Jedediah Hawkins Inn” now has more than 900 signatures in support of allowing outdoor events at the historic structure on South Jamesport Avenue.

The Inn, built in 1863, is once again before the Riverhead Town Zoning Board of Appeals seeking permission to have outdoor catered events, something it has done annually since 2008. Indoor catered events are permitted, but outdoors events are not, which is why the ZBA variance is needed.  (more…)

11/26/14 12:09pm
11/26/2014 12:09 PM
Matthew Kollmeier of Northport (right) and Jason Thomas of Riverhead carving up some of the over 250 pounds of roasted turkey. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Matthew Kollmeier of Northport (right) and Jason Thomas of Riverhead carving up some of the over 250 pounds of roasted turkey. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Culinary arts student Jason Thomas of Riverhead is volunteering to make Thanksgiving dinners for seniors in need as part of Suffolk Community College’s Community Arts program.

“This is hospitality. It is what we do, we are chefs,” he said as he was carving up one of the roasted turkeys in the school’s kitchen early Wednesday morning.  (more…)

11/20/14 11:50am
11/20/2014 11:50 AM
The former Courthouse Restaurant building as it appeared in January 2012. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

The former Courthouse Restaurant building as it appeared in January 2012. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

Riverhead Town may require the owner of the vacant and dilapidated Courthouse Restaurant (also known as J.P. Michael’s) on Railroad Avenue to clean up and secure the structure, or else the town will do so itself.  (more…)

09/23/12 5:00pm
09/23/2012 5:00 PM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Artist Thomas McSwane, left, with his wife, Nancy, in front of Mr. McSwane’s painting “Tree in the Middle.” His work will be on display at the Jedediah Hawkins Inn Art Barn in Jamesport until Oct. 21.

For Riverhead expressionist artist Thomas McSwane, art is more than just painting a landscape as it appears to the naked eye.

His watercolor technique involves adding the feeling he gets when looking at North Fork landscapes — including its energy and hidden colors and patterns.

The husband and father of four children said he has projected those meditative feelings into his art for the past 43 years by adding an array of bold, swirling colors to his landscape pieces. Mr. McSwane describes the method as “Landscape-Inscape,” which is also the title of his latest art exhibit at the Jedediah Hawkins Inn Art Barn in Jamesport.

“The idea of inscape is a philosophical thought from the Middle Ages that also has to do with poetry,” he said. “The idea is about the beauty of the creative world around us and how it’s more than just what you see.”

Originally from the Los Angels area, Mr. McSwane earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from San Diego State University and studied art history and art criticism at Stony Brook University’s masters program under renowned artist Donald Kuspit.

Over the course of his art career, Mr. McSwane has showcased his work in a variety of art galleries, including in Greenport and Riverhead, as well as in St. Peter’s Church in midtown Manhattan. While painting and raising his children, Dillon, 17, Josie, 21, Jessie, 27, and Dustin, 30, Mr. McSwane has also worked as a host and waiter at Tweed’s Restaurant and Buffalo Bar since it opened in downtown Riverhead.

“I’ve been painting for so many years and through raising and supporting a family, there has always been my art,” Mr. McSwane said.

In addition to his own garden, Mr. McSwane said he enjoys painting the Peconic Bay and Indian Island, as well as other landscapes across Long Island. An active member of the Living Water Church in Aquebogue, Mr. McSwane also gains his inspiration from the Bible.

During his exhibit’s opening reception Sunday, Mr. McSwane — wearing rainbow-colored, thin-rimmed circular eyeglasses — said he recently decided to put together a show after a 10-year break from exhibiting his work when his wife, Nancy, started to categorize his art this summer.

Ms. McSwane, a vocal drama coach, said she loves looking at her husband’s paintings because she sees “joy” and “excitement” in each one.

“I see another world, even though it’s a painting of my front yard,” she said of Mr. McSwane’s “Tree in the Middle” painting. “It’s not just a brown tree. He takes the other hints of colors and brings them out.”

The free exhibit is open Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 1 to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 6 p.m. until Oct. 21. For more information, visit Mr. McSwane’s Facebook page at facebook.com/Colorpsalm.

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07/20/12 5:00pm
07/20/2012 5:00 PM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The breezeway at the Luce-Jedediah Hawkins Inn and restaurant which connects the main building with a barn currently used for art exhibits.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The breezeway at the Luce-Jedediah Hawkins Inn and restaurant which connects the main building with a barn currently used for art exhibits.

The town gave the owners of the Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Jamesport a green light Thursday to build eight guest bedrooms in a barn that sits behind the historic Inn on South Jamesport Avenue.

The planning board’s site plan approval will allow the Inn’s owners, who have said the Inn will structure financially without additional sources of revenue, to make money by renting out the additional bedrooms.

The approval also allows them to add 20 more seats to the existing Luce & Hawkins Restaurant on the site, because it is considered a country inn, and the number of seats a Country Inn can have is predicated on the number of rooms it has, under the town’s code.

Earlier this year, the Inn’s owners received approval to contract an open-air breezeway connecting the restaurant to the barn. Under the town code as presently written, this allows the two buildings to be considered one, and also made the new, “one building” big enough to add the additional rooms.

But the breezeway ruling met with concern and some controversy and Town Board members are now considering changing the way a breezeway is defined.

The main Inn building that houses the restaurant and six guest rooms was built in 1863.

Pam Hunt, who has represented the Jedediah Hawkins Inn’s owners before the Planning Board, said after the decision Tuesday that they still need county health department approval and pine barrens credits before the owners can get a building permit.

The town approvals give the Inn owners three years to build the rooms.

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06/28/12 5:22pm
06/28/2012 5:22 PM

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Gary Sohmers, from the PBS show “Antiques Roadshow,” will be at the EHM Rock Art show this weekend.

Pop culture appraiser Gary Sohmers, from the Emmy-nominated PBS show “Antiques Roadshow,” is gearing up for the EHM Rock Art show, which will open at 10 a.m. Friday at the barn gallery at Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Jamesport.

Mr. Sohmers will appraise pop culture memorabilia brought in by the public between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday as well as between 10 a.m. and noon on Sunday.

The rock art show, which features hundreds of rock ‘n’ roll items, including signed artworks by Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and John Lennon, will be on display at the gallery through July 8.

All works at the event are available to purchase and Mr. Sohmers said buying rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia is a smart investment in comparison to stocks because he said the return for an autograph tends to be larger than stocks.

Mr. Sohmers became involved in antiques as a child when his father, a traveling salesman, would return home with a cigar box full of antiques that he’d picked up at various stores.

“My dad was really into campaign buttons, so at first I was helping him with that,” Mr. Sohmers said. “We have a large JFK campaign button collection and an extensive Abraham Lincoln campaign button collection, so I got to experience what it was like to find really rare, rare things and learn about them.”

The famed appraiser’s interests changed slightly as a teenager, when he began collecting pop culture memorabilia.

“I discovered, like everyone else who was 13 in the ‘60s, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, girls, cars, you know — campaign buttons became secondary to pop culture for me,” he said.

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