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Riverhead board OKs site plan for 100-room hotel

A site plan for a five-story 100-room hotel to be built on East Main Street has been approved by the Riverhead Town Board.

The plan approved Wednesday includes a restaurant/catering facility, a swimming pool, retail space and a requirement that the hotel have overflow parking for 45 cars on the northeast corner of East Main Street and Ostrander Avenue.

The hotel, first proposed in 2002, has shrunk from the original 126-room facility that was planned. But, as in the original proposal, developer James Bissett had included the use of off-site valet parking to deal with limited parking space at the site, which backs on the Peconic River.

Unlike many East End hotels, which are booked to capacity in the summer but have high vacancy rates in the winter, the combination of a hotel and catering facility next to the Atlantis Marine World Long Island Aquarium - which draws about a half million visitors a year - would have a solid base for year-round occupancy, according to the developers.

The county health department had issued a limited permit to allow foundation construction, which has begun. Pilings for the hotel have been put in place.

Eric Russo, attorney for the developers, said the hotel could not simply apply for a building permit because the health department requires an inspection of its sanitary system before issuing a required permit.

And that sanitary system could not be put in until all the pilings were in place.

So the health department issued a limited permit to allow foundation construction, and would issue the full permit for the hotel once the sanitary system is completed and inspected, which is expected to take several weeks.

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