Riverhead Town Hall. File photo: Alek Lewis

We Riverhead residents were very pleased to hear Supervisor Tim Hubbard vow to make transparency a priority in his new administration. But one month into his serving as our supervisor, that vow is already breaking. And worse, it’s not just transparency we’re losing — it’s trust.

I am, of course, writing about this publication’s recent article, “Riverhead Town officials accepted help from developer-paid professionals on code change for Sound-front resort plan” (January 30, 2024.)

So, follow this…

A mega-developer has a greedy plan to appropriate our beachfront off Sound Avenue, to create a monstrous, traffic producing, rich people’s resort he calls a “Luxury Spa”. The zoning doesn’t permit it, you say? Not to worry. And, very cleverly, it can all be accomplished under the guise of “farmland preservation” through “agri-tourism.”

Maybe the real reason our comprehensive plan update is so long delayed may be that the Town Board has been holding the door open for plans like this, being secretly hatched in the inner sanctum of the impenetrable castle on Second Street we know as Town Hall.

You see, behind the scenes, in meetings they don’t talk about — and think you have no right to know about — one of our town attorneys, our community development-cum-planning director and a town planner, have been huddled with the developer’s attorneys and planners to draw up the most favorable zoning possible for this colossal resort. And this was being done with the apparent knowledge and consent of various members of the Town Board, including then-councilman, now supervisor, Tim Hubbard.

That’s right. Who’s calling the shots? The developer himself. Wouldn’t you love to write your own rules?

Then, when this unseemly alliance was uncovered by RiverheadLocal, which blew the whistle on this duplicitous plot, what happened? Crickets. No one is talking. Remember those three cute little monkeys? Hear no evil…See no evil…Speak no evil? Apparently they now run policy in our new Town Hall.

The questions we need to ask as citizens are:

Why is a developer’s attorney coaching our town officials how to rewrite town code, so their fat cat client can change current zoning to get exactly what he wants?

Why is a developer making side deals, changing code, while we the people are paying consultants to produce our comprehensive plan? On what planet would this collusion be considered ethical?

Why is the town doing handsprings to accommodate an unknown, out-of-town developer?

Finally, we have to ask ourselves: Are we going to fall for this trick again? How many times have our elected officials told us, if we build one more noisy, dispiriting, scenery-stealing, traffic nightmare — miraculously — our taxes will come down because we built “tax base. In a small town like ours, with all we’ve built, why do we even have taxes?

We hoped our days of having a clown show at town hall were behind us. We’re calling on Tim not to be a circus ringmaster, but to be the town leader and address this grievous violation of our trust, to stop all consideration of this proposal and to demand transparency and respect for Riverhead from here on in.

Richard Cahill lives in South Jamesport.


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