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Riverhead farmers concerned about proposed parking ban

The Riverhead Town Board listened to public comments

The Riverhead Town Board listened to public comments on a proposed parking ban along Sound Avenue at their Aug. 20 meeting at Town Hall. Officials are considering the ban for safety reasons, but local farmers are concerned the parking ban along the street would impact farm operations for farms along that road. Credit: Newsday/Jean-Paul Salamanca

Riverhead farmers along one of Riverhead's largest roads, said they were worried about how a proposed parking ban there could affect their operations.

The Riverhead Town Board held a public hearing Tuesday  to take comments on a proposal to prohibit parking vehicles on both sides of Sound Avenue. The intersection runs from Route 25A in Wading River to the Riverhead/Southold boundary line. The parking ban would cover roughly 13.4 miles of town road, according to town records referenced by Town Attorney Robert Kozaciewicz.    

Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller said the lack of available shoulder space on Sound Ave. has created "a dangerous situation," which officials hoped the parking ban could alleviate.

However, Robert Carpenter, administrative director of Calverton-based farming advocacy group the Long Island Farm Bureau, said the town’s agricultural community was concerned that the parking restrictions could impact operations for farms on Sound Avenue. Carpenter said farmers wanted to know whether they would have to move fences on their properties to accommodate the code change, and how the parking ban would affect farmers who already sold development rights and might have less space available for parking.

“What we’re asking is if you can hold this in abeyance until some of these concerns could be addressed,” Carpenter said.

The parking limitations were designed to ease congestion and improve safety along Sound Avenue, Town Councilwoman Catherine Kent said at the meeting Tuesday.

“For me, along Sound Avenue, I see some dangerous scenarios," Kent said. "In some areas, kids are walking or families are walking alongside the road and we’re concerned about somebody getting hit.”

Robert Skinner, a Jamesport resident, said he welcomed the parking ban on Sound Avenue, adding he found it difficult to drive through that street on recent weekends because of the traffic.
Kent said that suggestions were welcomed on the matter and the town's Agricultural Advisory Commission would hold a meeting at a later date to discuss it further.

The board will likely decide on the proposed parking ban in November, Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said.

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