A proposal to ban parking along the 13.4-mile length of Sound Avenue in the Town of Riverhead is going back to the drawing board after a public hearing at Town Hall Tuesday night.
Town Board members agreed that the proposal needs tweaking to clarify whether the ban would apply to all areas within the town right-of-way, including unpaved areas and perhaps to limit the parking ban to certain sections of Sound Avenue — rather than impose a ban along the entirety of the east-west roadway.
The board agreed to adjourn the public hearing until Nov. 19 to allow time for more review, discussion and possible revisions.
Under current code parking is already banned on Sound Avenue in the vicinity of Briermere Farms and Riverhead Ciderhouse.
L.I. Farm Bureau administrative director Rob Carpenter took the podium to ask the board to table the measure for additional discussion.
“The farm community would like to work with the town to understand what you’re looking for and what you’re trying to address,” Carpenter said.
He said farmers would like to try to “work things out voluntarily” with the town.
“Addressing and understanding these concerns will allow farmers to plan in advance,” Carpenter said. He said he hoped the town could “establish voluntary guidelines beneficial to the town and the farm community.”
Councilwoman Catherine Kent, who brought the measure forward, said the proposal originated out of a concern for public safety.
“I see some danger scenarios — families walking right by the road, cars parking head-in and backing out onto the road,” she said. “This was done as a proactive measure and is not targeting any certain group. As liaison to two farm committees, I appreciate and understand how hard the farm community works,” Kent said.
Kent said the legislation would not take effect before next season. The proposed code revision before the board Tuesday night did not specify an effective date.
“We understand the need to plant,” she said, responding to Carpenter’s comment that if farmers had clarity about town guidelines they could plant their crops accordingly.
“We understand what you’re trying to do and we want to work with you,” Carpenter said.
Rodney Anderson, chairperson of the Riverhead Farmland Preservation Committee, agreed with Carpenter.
“I don’t quite understand the reasoning,” Anderson said. “I know there are areas that are issues. I can’t quite grip the necessity of doing the entire stretch of Sound Avenue.”
Anderson said a ban along all of Sound Avenue would affect more than farmers. People who live on Sound Avenue have yard sales and parties, churches have barbecues and other events, he said.
“To completely deny the ability to park near their houses doesn’t make sense,” he said. “Common sense needs to be applied.” He asked the board to “take a closer look” because “some areas are a problem and others are not.”
Kent agreed. “There’s only a few problem areas we’re looking to address,” she said.
“That’s exactly my point,” replied Anderson.
Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said there is a safety issue and it’s good to be proactive. Giglio said that she spoke to the chief of police about safety on Sound Avenue. “There’s not really accidents,” she said.
“Legislation is very easy to write and have public hearings and adopt,” Giglio said. “If you’re not taking into account all of the ramifications of the legislation then you’re not being a good legislator,” she said. “We need clarification of the location of the right-of-way. Farm stand turn outs are often in the town’s right-of-way,” Giglio said.
“We are taking into account all ramifications,” Kent responded. “We met with farmers. We discussed it at the ag advisory committee. This is a hearing, which is a start. We will take it back to the committees and discuss it further.” She said a lot of members of the farm community attended a recent agricultural advisory committee to discuss the issue.
“We’re kind of on listening tour with this right now,” Kent said.
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