Members of the Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition asked the Town Board on Thursday to impose a temporary moratorium on commercial development in Wading River along Route 25A from the Brookhaven border to Hulse Landing Road on Sound Avenue.
In calling for a moratorium, they said a “time-out period” of six months to a year should be spent on a “cumulative impact study” of current zoning in the hamlet to determine whether it conforms to the spirit and goals of the comprehensive, town-wide master plan that went into effect in Riverhead eight years ago.
In a presentation that was scheduled to run 30 minutes but stretched to more than an hour, coalition members — including co-founders Dominique Mendez and Phil Barbato — singled out four projects they are particularly concerned about and would like to see halted, including:
• A plan by Ken Barra, owner of the Inn at East Wind, to erect between 24 and 30 stores on the triangle-shaped parcel he owns at the intersection of Route 25A and Sound Avenue.
• A plan by the Zoumas organization to put up six buildings, including a bank, restaurant, retail space and professional offices, on 19 acres just east of the CVS and King Kullen shopping center on 25A – a parcel the coalition would like to see Suffolk County purchase for open space.
• A plan by another developer, Jim Tsunis, to erect a bank building, several restaurants and retail space just east of Tuthill’s Funeral Home on Route 25A.
• Great Rock Country Club’s intention to build 7,200 square feet of new catering space, a proposal that Barbato said would more than double the size of Great Rock’s existing clubhouse and create noise and traffic problems for those living in a nearby 52-home residential subdivision.
Barbato said that in addition to development that has already been proposed, an additional 100,000 square feet of commercial development could be possible in Wading River under current zoning.
The result, he said, “would be to transform Wading River from a small, charming hamlet to just any overdeveloped Long Island town suffering from commercial sprawl.”
“How long before Wading River resembles Centereach?” Mendez asked. “This is not progress. It’s the destruction of as way of life and the basis for our agricultural economy.”
Following the coalition’s presentation, the Town Board met with senior representatives of BFJ Planning, a consulting firm that recently completed a planning study for the Town of Brookhaven covering the portion of Route 25A that lies within that town. The study runs from Mount Sinai to Wading River.
Supervisor Sean Walter said he had invited the consultants in for a preliminary meeting to determine if BFJ Planning would be an appropriate firm to hire in the event the Town Board was of a mind to have someone undertake a review of current zoning.
No decisions were made, but Walter, Councilwoman Jodi Giglio and Councilman John Dunleavy seemed to indicate that if a study were to be done, it should encompass zoning in the entire town, not just Wading River.
Dunleavy, however, wondered aloud where the money to do such a study would come from.