The Riverhead Town Board at a work session last month. Photo: Denise Civiletti

A proposal to build a two-story medical office building on a 3.45-acre parcel on Main Road in Aquebogue got a chilly reception this morning by members of the Riverhead Town Board, who sent the developer back to the drawing board.

The site at 374 Main Road, on the northeast corner of Union Avenue just east of Route 105, is presently undeveloped and lies within the Rural Corridor zoning use district, where professional offices are allowed only by special permit of the town board.

Guidelines for the rural corridor zone call for a campus-style layout with each individual building having a maximum area of 5,000 square feet. The planning board, which has jurisdiction over the site plan application, favored a single, two-story building because a four-building campus-style design would have office buildings just 65 feet from the residential parcels to the north, planner Greg Bergman told the town board.

The location of the Main Road, Aquebogue site where a two-story office building is proposed. Image: Town of Riverhead

But most of the town board pushed back against the idea of a two-story building in that zone.

“I don’t think a two-story building is fitting for the area,” Councilwoman Catherine Kent said. “I think it will stand out,” she said, rather than blend in the way office complex across from the Aquebogue Elementary School does, she said.

Councilman Tim Hubbard agreed.

“It’s a beautiful rural corridor along the Main Road in Aquebogue and it don’t like seeing it disturbed,” Councilman Tim Hubbard said.

Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said she does not believe the professional office special permit use in the code was intended to allow for the construction of a “medical office center.” The 7,500-square-foot building would have 15,000 square feet of floor area and could accommodate multiple medical offices, she said.

“I think the intention was for single practitioners, not for a complex — especially for the reuse of the historic homes in this area,” Jens-Smith said.

“Where are medical offices allowed — in what district? Do we have vacant land where they are allowed? Why isn’t this being sited where medical offices are permitted?” the supervisor asked.

Bergman said he couldn’t answer that off the top of his head.

“If I don’t see anything from Main Road I don’t mind two-story buildings,” Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said. She said she doesn’t like granting a special permit to an applicant when the proposal will require variances.

The four-building, campus-style design for 15,000 square feet of building area would require a variance for the maximum impervious surface allowed by code, according to Bergman, because the parking required for 15,000 square feet bumps the impervious surface above the maximum.

“This is self-imposed,” Jens-Smith said. “The size of the buildings, the impervious surface — these buildings certainly could be smaller. They could be situated differently, they could have a bigger buffer from the road. It sounds like you’re trying to fit a lot more into this parcel than is permitted,” Jens-Smith said. “This goes to Jodi’s point. Let’s see something without a variance at a minimum and follows what our guidelines are.”

“The applicants are proposing to max out of the permissible floor area ratio. They could reduce the FAR and would thereby reduce the required parking,” Bergman said. “It could be redesigned.”

“I would like to see a design that meets the code,” Jens-Smith said.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.