Rendering of one version of the proposed town square, prepared by Urban Design Associates. Image courtesy of Riverhead Community Development Agency.

Riverhead’s plan to buy property in the center of its Main Street to create a town square received generally favorable response at a public hearing Tuesday afternoon.

Alyssa Kyle of Vision Long Island said her organization commended the town for its commitment to creating green space downtown.

“Many towns purchase property for use as parking lots,” she said. Providing a green space is good for residents as well as downtown businesses, Kyle said, noting that Mitchell Park in Greenport has contributed to the village’s revitalization.

Representatives of the Long Island Science Center, which recently purchased the former Swezey’s Department Store building that would border the new town square supported the plan.

Former councilwoman Barbara Blass said a town square has been “a longstanding vision” in Riverhead.

“It’s been a long wait,” said Joe Petrocelli, an owner of multiple Main Street properties, including the aquarium, marina, Hyatt East End and the Preston House. “This is a very exciting project,” he said.

Manorville resident Kelly McClinchy, said she understood the town’s motives but wondered when the other hamlets in Riverhead Town will get as much attention as downtown.

“I do not think it’s appropriate for the town to purchase buildings for a town square when residents in Manorville are going without clean drinking water,” McClinchy said. She implored the town board to move forward with a water district extension to the Manorville community, which has had issues with well water contamination.

The town clerk reported receiving several letters in opposition to the expenditure for the town square from Manorville-area residents seeking an extension of the Riverhead Water District to serve their neighborhoods.

The hearing record was left open for written comment until close of business July 31. Written comments may be submitted to the Riverhead Town Clerk, 200 Howell Avenue, Riverhead NY 11901 or by email.

The site at 331 East Main Street in Riverhead where a four-story apartment building is proposed. Image: Google Maps

The board also held a hearing on an apartment building proposal at 331 East Main St., a site most recently occupied by a Subway sandwich shop, as well as other retail and residential uses. A public hearing on the site plan and special permit applications was held in October, but had to be repeated because Riverhead Town failed to notify the Town of Southampton, which it was required to do by law, since the neighboring municipality is within 500 feet of the proposed development.

Members of the town Landmarks Preservation Committee advocated moving the existing building at 331 East Main Street to a parcel of town-owned land next to Tuthill-Mangano Funeral Home. The two-story wood-frame building, which the developer proposes to demolish, was built in 1855 and was the site of a blacksmith shop, according to landmarks committee chairperson Richard Wines.

The hearing record was left open for written comment until close of business July 31. Written comments may be submitted to the Riverhead Town Clerk, 200 Howell Avenue, Riverhead NY 11901 or by email.

The town board unanimously adopted a zoning code amendment that prohibits the landing or take-off of helicopters, seaplanes and amphibious aircraft from the town’s waters, beaches or lands.

The Riverhead Town Board at its July 21, 2020 meeting, which was closed to in-person public attendance under the town supervisor’s state of emergency declaration. Image: Video screenshot

The board on Tuesday scheduled several upcoming hearings:

  • A proposed increase of $305,000 in the previously authorized $10.56 million expenditure for upgrades and expansion of the Calverton Sewer District; (Aug. 4 at 2:10 p.m.)
  • A proposed revision to Section 301-231 of the zoning code pertaining to off-street parking requirements, to restrict the size of driveways and parking areas in the front yards of properties located in Residence A-40, Residence B-40, Residence A-80 and Residence B-80 zoning use districts and to prohibit parking in front yards other than on driveways or parking areas in those zoning use districts. (Aug. 18 at 2:05 p.m.)
  • A special permit application to construct an approximately 270,000-gallon liquid propane facility with nine 30,000 gallon tanks and one industrial building with accessory office space at 48 Kroemer Avenue in Riverhead. (Aug. 18 at 2:10 p.m.)
  • The site plan application of Eastern Wholesale Fence seeking to legalize eking to legalize certain structures built without permits at 301 Scott Avenue and to erect a new metal building, storage containers and silos. (Aug. 18 at 2:15 p.m.)
  • A proposed amendment to the Industrial A zoning use district (Article XXIII of the Riverhead zoning code) to allow outdoor storage of new motor vehicles by auto dealerships located in the Town of Riverhead. The proposed code would not allow the clearing of trees for creation of the storage area nor would it allow the fueling, washing, servicing display, showing or sales on the storage site.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the town board commenced its review of a proposal to erect a 120 foot tall cell tower on a one-acre site on the east side of Fresh Pond Avenue in Calverton. The board classified the special permit and site plan applications of Crown Castle at Fresh Pond Avenue as Type I actions under the State Environmental Quality Review Act and is seeking lead agency for the purposes of coordinated review under SEQRA.

In personnel actions, the board on Tuesday:

  • Hired a new planning aide Brian Cunningham from a Suffolk County Department of Civil Service certified list, effective July 27;
  • Appointed Brian Cybulski to the position of Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator IIIA, a job he has held provisionally since Feb, 6. The Suffolk County Department of Civil Service certified a list for the position on June 29 and Cybulski was appointed from the list to a permanent position, effective immediately.
  • Appointed, effective Aug. 10, Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator trainees Louis Trumpatori, Daniel Sloan and Kevin O’Kula from a Suffolk County Department of Civil Service certified list.
  • Promoted Riverhead Police Detective Charles Mauceri from Detective Grade II to Detective Grade I, effective July 1.
  • Ratified the promotion of Riverhead Police Detective Edward Carey from Detective Grade III to Detective Grade II, effective July 1.
  • Accepted the resignation of Craig Vasey as a police officer effective July 13.

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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.