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Civic Group Calls for Wading River Commercial Development Moratorium

Neighborhood coalition wants four projects stopped while a cumulative impact study is undertaken.

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.

Mac May 12, 2011 at 09:53 PM
The Coalition should pay for a study if they want one, along with the legal fees for when the property owners sue. Also, while they are at it, the Coalition should also start creating jobs, since they are blocking new jobs from coming in.
Laurie Downs May 13, 2011 at 03:17 AM
If the Town can find money to pay for another study for Down Town and another study for EPCAl..They can find money for this study.The Town should halt all commercial building a long 25,25a and 58 along with Sound Ave. Good Luck Wading River ..Don't allow them to let you look like us.....
John Rooney May 13, 2011 at 02:18 PM
Good luck to the Wading River group. How many stores can we absorb, especially when so many are already empty? This is needless long term sprawl for a few individuals' short term profit. John.
LInda Nemeth May 13, 2011 at 09:20 PM
Anyone who appreciates urban crowding and the BLIGHT of retail sprawl might consider moving to an area where Paradise has been paved and parking lots or empty strip mall exists. The Master Plan was created to help balance the quality of life on the North Fork and the beauty of the remaining farms and views, for which, so many tourists travel. Those of us who live here and have for generations are working to protect and SAVE WHAT'S LEFT! Let the voices of the people be heard. Linda

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