A proposed five-story, mixed-use apartment building on the corner of West Main Street and Sweezy Avenue received preliminary site plan approval from the Riverhead Town Board Tuesday.
The resolution granting preliminary site plan approval was not on Tuesday’s meeting agenda, but was introduced by Council Member Bob Kern, seconded by Council Member Hubbard and approved in a unanimous vote.
The five-story, mixed use building proposed by Jericho-based developer Georgica Green Ventures and known as “The Vue, is located on the outskirts of the town’s Railroad Avenue Urban Renewal Area overlay district, which was adopted in 2021 to allow expanded uses, including high-density residential development, in the hope of revitalizing the area surrounding the train station.
But Tuesday’s approval was not without objection from the public, as the board received 55 letters in opposition to the new apartment building.
“A proper fiscal study needs to be performed to determine the additional financial tax burden this project will place on the citizens of Riverhead, i.e.: School attendance, police/ambulance usage, sewage, water and fire department usage,” read the letters, the text of which were identical, though signed by different residents.
The letters say that a “proper environmental study needs to be completed to determine how this application will affect this area labeled as a critical environmental area by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the town should be removed as the lead agency in this matter.” It states that a new traffic study should be done in the area, since the study used for the application for the building is from 2020.
Kathy McGraw of Northville said when the resolution was taken off the floor that the Town Board should wait to vote on the resolution until the next board meeting.
“There are a lot of people who have an interest in this and taking this resolution off the floor gives them no notice whatsoever to come before you, the board, and make comments,” she said, referring to the resolution not being noticed on the Town Board’s meeting agenda. “And I don’t understand the rush, why this can’t be put off until the next Town Board meeting to give the public an opportunity to come and comment when there is a fair amount of interest.”
Community Development Director Dawn Thomas responded to McGraw. She said the board held its public hearing and kept its comment period open for written response “in excess” of its usual time period. The public hearing was held on Thursday, Nov. 9.
“There has been a sufficient and adequate and lengthy period of time within which the public could offer comments. And so any comments that were submitted — and I don’t think there were any — would be taken on consideration by the board,” Thomas said.
Town Attorney Erik Howard said the town had met its legal requirements for approving the site plan.
“This is taking an area that is very blighted, that has been providing very little attention in the last 20 years. Very, very little attention,” Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said before she voted. “And this is finally going to bring this area about — it’s going to make it vibrant. And we want to thank Dave Gallo, the team, and the [Community Development Agency] for supporting this. This is something that we needed in that area, right outside our downtown.”
The approval comes after the Town Board held a public hearing on the site plan last month.
The proposed development provides for 5,100 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, parking and outdoor seating underneath 133 market-rate apartments — 25 studio, 83 one-bedroom and 25 two-bedroom apartments. The development includes 200 parking stalls on both the ground floor and a basement area accessible on Sweezy Avenue.
The building also includes 3,700-square-feet of indoor amenity space for residents, as well as a 5,615-square-feet of outdoor amenity space on the second floor facing West Main Street, according to plans prepared by BHC Architects of Melville.
The Town Board, which has site plan review authority in the overlay district, has already issued a negative declaration under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, meaning the board determined that the proposed action is not expected to result in any significant negative environmental impacts with the implementation of mitigation measures. Those mitigation measures include a signal for the intersection of West Main Street and Sweezy Avenue, with a left turn signal for eastbound traffic on West Main Street turning onto Sweezy Avenue. Other mitigation includes improvements to the Riverhead Water District infrastructure in the vicinity of the project to support new demand.
The resolution passed by the board Tuesday outlines the comments received by state and county regulatory agencies, and states that no site work will begin until the project receives final site plan approval from the Town Board. The final site plan approval is contingent on various final approvals from town and county departments, as well as the New York State Department of Transportation, and the payment of recreation fees to the town, according to the resolution.
Georgica Green Ventures and RXR Realty were named joint master developers for the transit-oriented development redevelopment of a town-owned municipal parking lot between Court Street and Railroad Avenue. GGV/RXR also proposed building a mixed-use, three-story building on Griffing Avenue with 32 workforce housing condominiums for first-time homebuyers above ground-floor commercial space. GGV previously developed the five-story, mixed-use apartment building known as Riverview Lofts on East Main Street.
The Vue is the second building in the overlay district area to receive approvals from the Town Board. The first, located at 205 Osborn Avenue, at the corner of Court Street, is another five-story mixed-use apartment building, currently under construction by Huntington-based developer G2D.
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