Breakout groups deep in discussion in the balcony of the Suffolk Theater during a public workshop on the comprehensive plan update April 22. Photo: Denise Civiletti

A public workshop on the town’s comprehensive plan update has been scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 13 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Town Hall, Supervisor Yvette Aguiar announced Friday.

The purpose of this meeting is to test draft recommendations with the public before the draft document is presented to the public, the press release announcing the workshop said.

The meeting will provide an opportunity for residents, business owners, property owners and other interested parties to share their ideas and comment on draft goals and recommendations for the plan, the supervisor’s press release said.

The town’s planning consulting firm, BFJ Planning of New York City — hired last December to complete the update begun in 2020 by previous planning consultants AKRF, after the town terminated its contract with AKRF last year — has been working with a steering committee appointed by the Town Board to update the town’s existing 20-year-old comprehensive plan. To date, the consultants have met with the steering committee eight times. Information on each workshop can be found on the town’s comp plan update website. Another meeting is set for Nov. 27.

BFJ has also been meeting with focus groups made up of community stakeholders. Links to video recordings of the focus group meetings are posted on the town’s comp plan update website here.

BFJ held a public workshop in April — the first of two workshops planned as a means of gaining broader public input — and heard feedback from about 100 people who attended the session, which was held at the Suffolk Theater.

WATCH: Video of the April 22 public workshop presentation

According to a 15-month timeline prepared by BFJ, a draft of the comprehensive plan update is scheduled to be completed in February. After that, there will be a public hearing on the draft plan and a final plan will be prepared for adoption.

A comprehensive plan is an all-encompassing blueprint for the future of a municipality, guiding it on a wide range of issues, the most impactful of those being how land should be used and what development should be allowed or prohibited, incentivized and disincentivized. It’s also a blueprint for how to spend money on capital improvements for infrastructure. And it’s a cohesive local public policy guide for years to come.

Although state law does not mandate a municipal comprehensive plan be updated, the lifespan of a plan is considered to be around 10 to 20 years. Riverhead’s plan was last updated in 2003, adopted after a process that took more than four years.

State law requires all zoning code changes to be made pursuant to a “comprehensive plan” or “well-considered plan.” This provides strong support for adopted zoning codes if the codes are challenged in court.

Zoning laws regulate what can be built, where it can be built and what that development should look like — making those laws one of the biggest responsibilities of the town’s legislature, the Town Board.

The plan “details the community’s vision for the future and guides Riverhead on a wide range of issues and provides strategies for addressing economic development, farmland preservation and the agricultural economy, housing, revitalization of Main Street and hamlet centers, transportation, sustainable development, climate resiliency, and natural resource preservation and water quality,” the supervisor’s press release said.

Visit the Town of Riverhead Comprehensive Plan Update website for resource documents, videos and other information

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