Image: Urban Design Associates

At the last town board work session, the board suddenly decided not to move forward with the proposed zoning amendments that would have implemented the guidelines of the Downtown Pattern Book —specifically the sustainability goals and design requirements for new development that mandate 40% green roofs and a net zero energy standard.

The Pattern Book, commissioned in 2019 at a price of $175,000, was a costly, time-intensive project that included extensive community input, as well as input from various committees, including the Business Advisory Committee.  

Yet now that the Pattern Book is on the brink of implementation, that same Business Advisory Committee, through its chairperson Martin Sendlewski, has raised objections and the town board — the same folks who adopted the Pattern Book in January 2021 — have changed course.  

The Business Advisory Committee asserts that these standards are a detriment to developers.  I think we all understand exactly what that means—they will cost developers too much money and decrease profitability.  And so it looks like all that time and money spent on the Pattern Book was for naught.  Just what was the point of that costly exercise?

I often and truly wonder if any of the members of the town board ever go home at night and ask themselves if they have built a bridge too far to developers at the expense and future of the people who live here in this town.  Riverhead, unlike other towns around it on the East End, has bent over backwards for developers.  Look around, what do we see? With few exceptions, a lot of unattractive apartment buildings.  

And let’s not forget, we live on a small spit of land that is constantly being overtaken by the waters around it.  Listen to the weather reports and it is hard to miss the devastating storms and weird weather events that are a response to how we humans are treating this planet.  

It is the town board’s  responsibility is to preserve and protect Riverhead for those who live here now and their descendants.  Their responsibility is not to those who develop, reap profits—the bigger the better—and then leave town.  Sure, 40% green roofs and net zero energy might cost developers a few extra bucks, but the failure to implement even these small changes is bad for the environment and is contrary to what this community and the board itself decided was best for the town when it adopted the Pattern Book.  

The board should move forward and adopt the zoning amendments as proposed. 

Kathy McGraw


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