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Riverhead accepts Suffolk's 52-acre gift

Riverhead Town Hall is at 200 Howell Ave.

Riverhead Town Hall is at 200 Howell Ave. Credit: Carl Corry

Riverhead officials have accepted 52 acres from Suffolk County, but the gift came with a few wrinkles.

Before officials voted Tuesday night to accept the undeveloped land on Sound Avenue, acquired by the county through nonpayment of taxes, a debate broke out. Supervisor Sean Walter warned Councilwoman Jodi Giglio to "stop interrupting" when she complained she did not have time to review the resolution.

The exchange was during time set aside for public comment on the plan.

The board voted 3-0 to accept the land, with Giglio and Councilman George Gabrielsen abstaining. Both noted they had not seen the resolution before the day of the meeting, and that two town attorneys had given seemingly conflicting opinions on some details of the original subdivision and acquisition of the land by Suffolk.

Councilman John Dunleavy said the donation would end a long-standing legal dispute on environmental restrictions that has kept the town in court for seven years. "This is a good way to end it," he said.

The land, actually two parcels totaling 52.6 acres, is on the east and west sides of the gatehouse to Willow Ponds on the Sound condominiums.

While accepting the property would end the town's legal dispute over the land, the town attorney's office had different views on the original subdivision of the property, which it said might impact the county or the Willow Ponds homeowners association.That unresolved issue would have no impact on the town, but Giglio said she wanted time to review the resolution. "I can't see why we can't wait two weeks so I can take a hard look at it," she said.

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