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Builder seeks zone change for housing near Peconic Bay Medical Center

Joseph Manzi, a Rocky Point-based builder, fourth from

Joseph Manzi, a Rocky Point-based builder, fourth from left, and Steven Losquadro, third from left, appeared before the Riverhead Town Board Wednesday at Riverhead Town Hall to discuss possibly changing the zoning of 26 acres of property on Middle Road to RB-40 residential zoning, which would allow for workforce housing to be built on the property. Credit: Newsday / Jean-Paul Salamanca

A developer is requesting a zoning change at a Riverhead land parcel that would allow him to build what he described as 34 units of workforce housing for young employees at a nearby regional hospital.

Joseph Manzi, a Rocky Point-based builder, asked the Riverhead Town Board at its Jan. 2 work session for permission to change the zoning for 26 acres of property on Middle Road east of Harrison Lane to RB-40 residential zoning. That change would would allow workforce housing, or smaller, affordable rental units, to be built on the property.

Steven Losquadro, Manzi’s Rocky Point-based attorney, told the board the property was currently zoned as RA-40 residential, which does not include workforce housing as part of its permitted zoning uses. Peconic Bay Medical Center representatives had previously approached Manzi about possibly using the property to house young workers they planned to recruit for their planned hospital expansion, Losquadro said.

Manzi thought he “could satisfy that need and do it in a way that wouldn’t dramatically expand the density” and create up to 34 small units for such workers that “would be much more affordable for the people that need such housing. That might actually be sort of a win-win situation,” Losquadro said.

Hospital representatives did not immediately return requests for comment.

Some board members expressed interest in Manzi’s proposal.

“I agree with you with the need of the young professionals coming in with the expansion of the hospital and the proximity of this both to the hospital and to shopping,” Councilman Tim Hubbard said at the meeting.  “I really think it’s an ideal situation, and [the property] is set back off the road.”

However, Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said she was worried the zoning change could create congestion in the area, which is near the busy Roanoke Avenue.

"Right in that particular area, there's more than one parcel that is RB-40," Jens-Smith said Friday. "Even just changing the zoning there in that little area, it would increase the density there incredibly."

Jens-Smith said Manzi and Losquadro needed to do some more fact-finding on the proposal, which had not been formally submitted yet, and come back to the board at a later date.

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