The Railroad Avenue Overlay District was adopted Jan. 5, 2021.

A public hearing will be held by the Riverhead Town Board today on a zoning overlay district proposed for the Railroad Avenue urban renewal area. See proposed code here.

With the overlay district the town hopes to spur redevelopment of the urban renewal area in a way that maintains “a traditional downtown character to complement the character of Main Street.” The goal is to revitalize the area with “transit-oriented development” consisting of multi-story buildings with “active ground-floor uses” and residential uses on upper stories “at an intensity similar to that of the DC-1 Main Street District where feasible and at a scale that is suitable for the property size.”

The overlay district applies to properties that are at least 20,000 square feet in size within the boundaries of the area and will provide landowners with an alternative option for development of eligible properties.

The proposed code would allow building heights of up to 50 feet on properties 20,000 square feet to 60,000 square feet with 60% lot coverage. It would allow building heights of up to 60 feet on properties of greater than 60,000 square feet with 80% lot coverage.

Under certain circumstances, some buildings would be allowed a maximum height of 75 feet, at the discretion of the town board. Buildings eligible for the increased height are mixed-use buildings that include an “arts use” such as “museum or performing arts or similar” on the ground floor. The proposed code limits the maximum height to that which is less than that considered a “high-rise” building under the New York State Building Code, which defines a high-rise building as one having “an occupied floor of more than 75 feet above the lowest level of fire department vehicle access.”

Property owners may further increase density by providing certain community benefits: shared parking for complementary uses; purchase of land along the Peconic River for passive park use; purchase of transfer of development rights credits; implementation of green infrastructure (rain gardens) on- or off-site; and other features such as a green roof.

The proposed code requires developers of residential units to provide off-street parking for dwellings under the proposed code, calculated according to the size and number of residential units.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 2:10 p.m. Town Board meetings remain closed to the public under the state of emergency declaration in effect due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The meeting can be viewed on Optimum channel 22 or on the Town of Riverhead website.

Those interested in commenting during the hearing may do so via Zoom using this link or by calling +1 929 205 6099. (Meeting ID: 843 0412 7720 Passcode: 628667)

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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.