The Riverhead Town Board during a special meeting on Jan. 2. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Riverhead’s planning board and zoning board of appeals may have term limits if the town board agrees to a proposal being advanced by Councilwoman Catherine Kent.

The board yesterday reappointed planning board chairman Stanley Carey, vice chairman Edward Densieski and member George Nunnaro during yesterday’s town board meeting, prompting Kent to reiterate a proposal for term limits she suggested at last week’s work session.

Kent stressed she was not speaking against any specific board members, but believes if a board position is a paid post, it should be subject to term limits.

“The town board has term limits, and I feel that the planning board and zoning board of appeals should have term limits,” Kent said. “We should seek members who have a background that is complimentary to the work that they need to do. The zoning board of appeals and planning board actually make hardcore determinations on the blueprint of our town.”

She pointed to Carey and Barnes as examples of members who have work experience that benefits the decisions the board faces.

Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said the town board will continue the discussion at this week’s work session.

After the abrupt resignation of Deputy Supervisor Denise Merrifield a few weeks into the new administration, Aguiar appointed her executive-assistant Devon Higgins to the post. The town board acknowledged the appointment yesterday and set the terms and conditions of her job. Higgins will earn an annual salary of $82,694 plus benefits.

Carol Sclafani was named town board coordinator, replacing Kristen Hunt, who resigned last month. Sclafani served as the legislative secretary to former town supervisor Sean Walter for seven years and was terminated with the change of administrations in 2017 when Walter lost the election to Laura Jens-Smith. (). She will earn an annual salary of $40,000 plus benefits.

Karen Occhiogrosso was appointed as full-time confidential secretary in the town attorney’s office for code enforcement, previously a part-time position. The board added money to the town attorney’s office budget for 2020 to beef up code enforcement capabilities with additional clerical support. She will earn an annual salary of $67,000, plus benefits.

In other action at yesterday’s meeting, the town board:

  • authorized the creation of a joint task force with the Riverhead Central School District to open a dialogue, examine problems and develop solutions in the town and district. The task force will consist of representatives of the town, school district and community members.
  • Determined that a proposed 22.9 megawatt solar power facility on Edwards Avenue in Calverton does not require further environmental review. (
  • classified as a Type I action under the State Environmental Quality Review Law and requested lead agency status Chernoff Medical Building special permit and site plan application. The plan calls for the demolition of the existing building at 331 Main Road, Aquebogue and the construction of a two-story, medical professional office with an unfinished basement and parking lot.
  • retained certified environmental planner Jeffrey Seeman to assist the planning board in its review of the site plan of Breezy Hill Group, which proposes to construct and operate materials processing facility (concrete and asphalt processing and recycling facility) on a 6.7-acre site at 1792 Middle Road in Calverton.
  • issued a negative declaration for the interior and exterior alterations to convert an existing office building at 307 E. Main Street in Riverhead into a first floor restaurant with second floor apartment.
  • accepted a license agreement with Cornell Cooperative Extension for a fish passage camera at Grangebel Park. The camera will be operational from Feb. 1 to June 1 and will be used to monitor the number of fish entering the stream during breeding season. Cornell Cooperative Extension will remove the required equipment after the breeding season is over.
  • approved a budget adjustment to transfer $14,000 from the 2019 unassigned fund balance to a repairs and maintenance budget line to cover the cost of a metal walkway and cover, LED parking lot lights, electrical supplies, signage and other items in connection with the addition of a modular office at the justice court. At the end of last year, the board transferred $25,000 to buildings and grounds to fund the installation of the office.
  • accepted the retirement of Brian Gablenz, a water treatment plant II operator, effective Feb. 15.
  • authorized a help wanted advertisement for part-time police officer candidates. An applicant must be at least 20 years old, graduated from high school, be a U.S. citizen, have a N.Y. driver’s license and possess a Municipal Police Training Certificate or can attend and complete the Suffolk County Police Academy training course. The course is tentatively scheduled to start in this fall. To apply, submit applications to the Office of the Chief of Police at the Riverhead Police Department no later than Feb. 28.
  • authorized the attendance of Judge Allen Smith and Charlene Mascia at the annual training conference of the New York Association of Treatment Court Professionals.
  • appointed members of the Riverhead Anti-Bias Task Force for the year 2020. Police Chief David Hegermiller will be the Police Department liaison. The town board liaison remains undetermined. Connie Lassandro, Michele Lynch, and Sarah Mayo were appointed as chairperson, vice-chairperson and secretary/treasurer, respectively.
  • reappointed Architectural Review Board chairman Roy Sokoloski for another year and member Kelly Shauger for another three years.

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Julia-Anna Searson
Julia-Anna is a Riverhead native and a recent graduate of Stony Brook University, with a degree in Biology and minor in Anthropology. She currently lives in Cutchogue.