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Riverhead to hold public forum on downtown building height proposal

"We also need to remember that we represent everyone in Riverhead, not a handful of developers," Riverhead Deputy Supervisor Catherine Kent said. 

The Riverhead Town Board will hold a public

The Riverhead Town Board will hold a public forum Jan. 31 to take comments and suggestions on the proposed building requirement changes suggested by the Downtown Revitalization Committee. Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

Riverhead residents will be able to weigh in later this month on a proposal to limit building height in the downtown Main Street area.  

The Riverhead Town Board will hold a public forum Jan. 31 to take comments and suggestions on the proposed building requirement changes suggested by the Downtown Revitalization Committee.

The proposal would set the maximum building height at two stories, or 24 feet, but structures could rise to three stories, or 36 feet, with the transfer of development rights. Structures could be built up to four stories, or 48 feet, with the purchase of development rights. The restrictions would apply to the DC-1 downtown zoning district from the south side of East Main Street from Griffing Avenue to just past Ostrander Avenue.  

Downtown property owners at the board’s Dec. 18 and Jan. 3 regular meetings said they were worried the proposed zoning amendments would limit the potential uses for those buildings, prevent economic growth on Main Street and limit the potential income property owners could earn from such buildings. 

“As elected officials, we need to hear back from the community, and that’s what we’re doing with this [Jan. 31] meeting,” Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said at the Jan. 10 work session.

Deputy Supervisor Catherine Kent, the board’s liaison to the Downtown Revitalization Committee, said at the work session that the board needed to weigh the long-term benefits of approving such regulations with the concerns of those who oppose the plan.

“This is a big change and we do need to all sit down and talk about it. But we also need to remember that we represent everyone in Riverhead, not a handful of developers,” Kent said. “We need to think about what everyone wants in our town, and once again, I am saying we need to be visionaries, we need to look to the future. This decision that we are making is key to our Main Street.”  

Town Councilman James Wooten said the board needed to be cautious about any changes that could affect future development on Main Street.

“Main Street is quaint, but it has to be sustainable,” Wooten said.

More information about the time and location of the meeting will be available in a public notice in the coming days, board members said.

 Proposed code amendments

Zoning regulations would set the maximum building height at two stories, or 24 feet, but structures could rise to three stories (36 feet) with the transfer of development rights, or to no more than four stories (48 feet) with the purchase of development rights:

  • Maximum building height would be two stories, with commercial uses required on the first floor.
  • Any third-floor development would be required to be set back 15 feet from any front yard.
  • Any fourth-floor development would be required to be set back 30 feet from any front and rear yard.
  • Maximum impervious surface would be reduced from 100 percent to 80 percent to allow for public space, with the floor area ratio to be reduced proportionately.

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