Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a package of gun bills Monday. The governor said: “It just keeps happening. Shots ring out, flags come down, and nothing ever changes. Except here in New York.” Newsday TV’s Cecilia Dowd reports.   Credit: Anthony Florio

Riverhead officials are considering legislation that would prohibit retail gun stores downtown, an area they are working to revitalize to attract more families and tourists.

The town board will vote at its regular meeting Tuesday on whether to hold a July 6 public hearing to take comments on a proposal that would prohibit firearms dealers, firing ranges and gunsmiths from being within the DC-1 zoning district — the downtown area that extends from the south side of East Main Street from Griffing Avenue to just past Ostrander Avenue.

Dawn Thomas, the town’s Community Development Agency director, told Newsday that the legislation was considered as part of ongoing efforts to revitalize downtown Riverhead into a family-friendly, economically viable location.

“The direction we’ve been moving in since we’ve done the town square design is really a family-friendly destination,” Thomas said. “So we really were thinking, ‘Let’s think about the things that we feel might not be family-friendly types of retail on Main Street and let’s address those.’ ”

Such businesses may be allowed in the district via a town-approved special permit, according to the legislation, if they are not close to any property containing a residential use, or public or private schools, playgrounds, libraries and other areas specified in the law, among other conditions.

At a May 26 work session, board members spoke in agreeance of the proposal.

“I have nothing against gun shop owners, but they don’t belong in that area,” said Councilman Tim Hubbard, adding that there are other places in town such businesses could be located and that having them downtown runs counter to the town’s goals of promoting the area as a destination for families and tourists.

Elsewhere in Riverhead, a proposal to convert a vacant building on Elton Street into a firearms training facility/shooting range worries some residents, who said they do not want it in their neighborhood.

Charles Cuddy, a Riverhead attorney representing applicant Signature Partners, asked the planning board at its June 2 regular meeting to take the proposal back to the zoning board over concerns about planned retail sales of firearms.

Retail gun sale plans were not disclosed on any application forms, and the applicant wants to amend the request to “accurately reflect the proposed use of the building,” according to Greg Bergman, a town planner.

Though the board granted Cudy’s request, several residents, among them John Moran, of neighboring Mill Pond Commons, asked its members to reject the application should it be resubmitted for approval. 

“I have to think there is a more rural location for this kind of activity, be it a wooded area or an abandoned farmhouse that is not a populated area that would not affect so many people who reside right in that immediate area,” Moran said.

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