The developer looking to build four restaurants on the seven-acre mostly vacant site at the corner of Route 58 and Mill Road was back before the Planning Board last night to discuss new revisions to his proposed site plan.
The Jimmy John’s fast-food restaurant, previously slated to jointly occupy — with Dunkin’ — one of the four proposed buildings has been eliminated from the plan, Riverhead Planner Greg Bergman told the Planning Board, as he reviewed changes to the site plan since it was last seen by the board.
Members of the Planning Board at a prior meeting had objections to allowing two separate drive-through windows in one building, citing concerns about traffic flow within the site. They asked the two restaurants, which have the same corporate owner, to share one drive-through window. Instead, the building will be occupied solely by the Dunkin’ donut franchise, Bergman said. It will have one drive-through window.
The new version of the site plan also reflects changes made to meet requirements of the Riverhead Water District and the Suffolk County Department of Public Works.
The county is requiring a 15-foot dedication along the frontage on Route 58, a county road, Bergman said.
The Riverhead Water District rejected the developer’s plan to supply water to the site via an eight-inch main on Mill Road and is requiring the developer to provide a 10-inch water service tapped off the water main located on the south side of Route 58, Bergman said.
That water connection will require the placement of a valve enclosure box — a structure that contains check valves to prevent backflow — on the south end of the site, near Route 58, Bergman said. The county won’t allow the enclosure to be placed within the dedicated right of way, so it has to be located just north of the right of way, Bergman told the board.
“Basically, it’s a big stainless steel box, approximately six feet tall, probably like eight feet wide,” he said.
“So we’re here to kind of get some feedback from the board,” he said, noting that the placement right on Route 58 is “obviously not the most desirable location” and would require screening in order to preserve the landscaped aesthetic of the site.
Developer Richard Israel explained that there was little choice about where the water service line could come into the site, because the county health department will not allow water and sewer lines to cross each other anywhere on the site.
“The issue that we have here is this is a very tight site plan. And this is very late in our application. We’ve gone through a couple of years in front of you to try to coordinate everything that has to happen on this site plan with sewer, water and the like,” Israel said.
“The sewer easement that leads out to Commerce Drive is extremely tight because we have drainage structures within the property that they’re coming across. And we’ve actually moved the sewer easement so that it goes along the property line to miss all of that,” Israel said. “It’s virtually impossible to get a water line through that because of the drainage structures and the sewer mains,” he said.
Israel said until a month ago, they thought that the eight-inch main was acceptable, “but Frank wants that 10-inch main to come across Route 58,” he said, referring to Riverhead Water District Superintendent Frank Mancini. “The water department was worried about water pressure if there was a fire there.”
Israel said he he went “back and forth with the fire marshal” and added another fire hydrant on the site. He said he believes only two of the buildings require fire suppression — sprinklers — under the code.
Two of the four buildings are greater than 5,000 square feet, requiring sprinklers under the state fire code. Building one, to be occupied by Chick-fil-A, located on the south side of the site, is 5,855 square feet. Building two, to be occupied by Dunkin’, is 2,560 square feet. Building three, for which no tenant has yet been named, is 2,600 square feet. Building four, anticipated to be a 200-seat restaurant, is 6,400 square feet.
Planning Board member Joseph Baier suggested eliminating a parking space on the north end of the parking lot, to allow placement of the valve enclosure box behind the landscaped area along Route 58. There are eight parking spaces depicted on the site plan in that location. Eliminating one or two of them for the enclosure box would allow it to be set back further off the road and improve the aesthetics from the road.
Israel resisted that idea. While there are more parking spaces for Chick-fil-A than required by town code, Israel said, it’s the number of spaces required by their lease. In all, the site plan shows 58 parking spaces for Chick-fil-A.
He asked the board not to require changes that would affect the Chick-fil-A restaurant. “We are completely done with Chick-fil-A. Everybody corporately has approved everything,” Israel said. Any change would require him “to go back to their entire corporate structure, even to get rid of a parking space,” he said.
Israel said as it is, he will have to get corporate approval to have the enclosure box where it’s being proposed, even without affecting Chick-fil-A’s parking, because it’s in front of their building. “I have not even brought this up to Chick-fil-A,” he said. We’re basically going to say this is a requirement of yours and hopefully it will get through their corporate governance,” he said.
Planning Board Chairperson Joann Waski said she is concerned about the density of the development on the site.
“You just said several times what a tight site plan this is, and it really is. I’m very concerned with the building in the rear,” Waski said. The 6,000-square-foot building on the north end of the site, for which there is not yet a tenant, is expected to be a 200-seat restaurant, according to the developer.
“I’d like to see Chick-fil-A come. I think its’ a great thing,” Waski said. “This area’s so dense right now with the way that this is drawn out. And you just said it yourself that it’s tight…I’m afraid that there’s going to be too much congestion there.”
Engineer Doug Adams said Israel’s characterization of the site as “tight” was referring to the placement of the enclosure box.
“I think the rest of the site is completely adequate for what we’re doing and it meets all the code requirements,” Adams said. The code requires one spot per three seats, he said, but every restaurant actually needs more than that.
“Many restaurants…have larger parking requirements, because they want to make sure that any customer that comes has a place to park, that it always looks like there’s always generous parking,” Israel said.
“Is it possible not to build all the parking spaces, even though the spaces are there,” Baier asked.
“So again, we’re bringing up issues in the 11th — the 12th hour. This has been in front of your board for two years. It has gone through quite a bit of motion to get where we are today,” Israel said.
Bergman said the site is “over-parked” as far as town code is concerned. The code requires 149 spaces, he said, and the site plan provides 250 spaces.
“What the code requires for a restaurant and what is actually required for a restaurant are two different things,” Adams said. He cited the Applebee’s site as an example. The site plan provided the parking required by the town code, but it was not enough after the phase-two pad with retail stores were built, Adams said.
Board Vice Chairperson Ed Densieski asked about the buffer between the site development and the existing residential community adjacent to its northern boundary.
The site plan calls for a six-foot chain link fence with privacy slats. The existing wooded area along the northern boundary, a natural buffer, will not be disturbed, Bergman said.
“There is a retaining wall in front of the parking stalls and they are providing an evergreen buffer on top of that retaining wall to screen the parking so you’re not gonna get you’re not gonna get headlights into the residential property,” Bergman said.
“It’s a massive project,” Densieski said. More landscaping in that area would be better, he said.
“Everybody would like to preserve the trees that are there,” Israel said. If you’d like me to tear down the oaks and everything else we can do that,” Israel said.
“Nobody wants you to tear down any trees,” Waski said.
The development of the site will take place in four phases. Buildings one and two, with parking, will be built in phase one, Israel said. Building three with parking will be constructed in phase two. Building four with parking is phase three. A 29-space parking lot shown between the northern entrance and building three — will be built in phase four. There may be some drainage structures installed in the northern half of the site in phase one, Israel said. But the area will be balanced, graded and probably seeded until they find tenants for buildings three and four, he said. The two entrances on Mill Road, which line up with the entrances to the Riverhead Centre site, will be built in phase one and all perimeter landscaping, including the northern buffer, will also be completed in phase one, he said.
There is also a right-turn only entrance/exit — right-turn in, right-turn out — on Route 58, at the western edge of the site. it provides access to a two-way, two-lane interior roadway that stretches north to the parking lot for building four.
The developer will submit details for the valve enclosure unit, landscaping plans and screening methods for that.
The property is owned by the Long Island Cauliflower Association, which formerly used it for farm auctions and storage. It is currently improved with a metal warehouse building, which will be torn down to make way for the new development.
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