Six public hearings during Wednesday night’s town board meeting drew scant comment from the public.
A representative of the Long Island Farm Bureau and individual farmers raised concerns about a proposed code revision that would ban parking on both sides of Sound Avenue for the whole of its 13-mile length in the Town of Riverhead.
The farm bureau didn’t object to the ban, but asked for an exemption for farmers who need to park temporarily on Sound Avenue to “address an issue in their field or … check on equipment” so they wouldn’t be ticketed “while they’re trying to do some work,” said Lauren McGrath, associate director of the L.I. Farm Bureau.
“So just something that could perhaps either exempt accepted agricultural practices or just a clarification saying… how far off the road would constitute acceptable legal parking, so that the farmers don’t potentially end up with a ticket while they’re trying to do some work,” McGrath said.
McGrath also asked for collaboration between the town and farm operators on the location of and language used on signage should the town decide to implement a parking ban on Sound Avenue.
Sound Avenue resident Mary Beth Zilnicki, farmer Jeff Rottkamp of Rottkamp Farms and Brian Lewin and Erick Lewin of Lewin Farms in Calverton raised objections to the proposed code change.
Zilnicki, who said she has lived on Sound Avenue for 35 years, said the proposal was overboard. “Because other than specific sites where there are problems with parking on the side road, I don’t see any serious problem with people parking anyplace else on Seventh Avenue,” she said.
Jeff Rottkamp said the proposal was “a little extreme.” He suggested other things, like the speed of vehicles, is “horrendous.”
“We’ e been living in BH for 57 years. When we moved out into that area, you could walk down sound avenue without a problem. Times have changed. So maybe listen to agriculture a little bit more. We’e made loads of sacrifices.
Former Councilman George Bartunek, a member of the town’s alternative transportation committee, said the committee has endorsed the parking ban in the interest of the safety of bicyclists.
Brian Lewin of Lewin Farms questioned whether the town was singling out Lewin Farms. He said a few years ago, after complaints, the farm moved parking further back off the road than it had been.
Councilman Frank Beyrodt and Councilman Tim Hubbard both said they were not interested in a Brookhaven to Southold parking ban on Sound Avenue.
Erick Lewin of Lewin Farms said he is concerned about the impacts of widening Sound Avenue. His farm already moved parking off the road, he said. Would it be required to move it back even more?
Town Board members replied that the proposed code revision would not require Lewin Farms to move their parking area again.
The other public hearings Wednesday night were on the topics of proposed sewer rent charges for out-of-town hookups, a parking regulation affecting Cliff Road East in Wading River, weight limits on Peconic Bay Boulevard, a change to the smoking code pertaining to cannabis, and the site plan application of the developer of a proposed restaurant on Heidi Behr Way.
Only the proposal to include cannabis in existing code restrictions on smoking in public places drew comment.
Paulette Orlando of the Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island, a member of the Riverhead CAP Community Coalition, spoke in favor of making restrictions tougher.
Orlando said surveys completed in the Riverhead school district show that electronic cigarette use among high schoolers has been rising — as much as 51% — and “e-cigarette use remains the most used tobacco product among youth.”
More than half of teens falsely believe e cigarettes are harmless, Orlando said. But e-cigarettes use makes youth four times more likely to start smoking conventional cigarettes and it has lasting harmful health effects, including harmful effects of second-hand smoke emissions, she said.
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