To the Editor,

After four years of trying to update the Comprehensive Plan for the Town of Riverhead, we are finally nearing completion.  

At the June 18th Town meeting, “agritourism resorts” was one aspect of the Comp Plan Update that was discussed.  It appears that luxury resorts on the Sound are being disguised as ‘agritourism’ in an effort to make them more palatable to the public. “Agritourism Resorts” are one means to preserve farmland but they have nothing to do with farming or “agritourism”, and each one will preserve no more than 70 acres of farmland.  For the 7 sites identified for these resorts, only 490 acres would be preserved, whereas 1,050 guest rooms would be added.  Consider the traffic and the impacts of such development on Sound Avenue. 


Pictured Above: The soundfront property listed as the North Fork Resort on Alfred Weismann Real Estate LLC’s website.


As noted at the Town Board meeting, the Comp Plan Update comment period elicited just 49 letters from a Town of 35,000 residents–23 of which specifically opposed the resorts. Supervisor Hubbard failed to acknowledge that several letters were from Civic Associations that represent a multitude of residents.  Furthermore, Supervisor Hubbard only acknowledged 23 comments opposing the resorts, but stated his belief that many people who did not write-in or speak at meetings, actually favor the resorts.  The opposition voiced by residents and Civic Associations who have spoken up, carry as much weight, if not more.

At that meeting, Town Board members agreed preservation of farmland and vistas along Sound Avenue are important.  If resorts are not desired, they welcome other solutions from the public.  However, this invitation is too late: the Comp Plan is about to be finished.  The consultants missed the opportunity to hold meetings where residents, farmers, and Town officials could brainstorm and talk about the ways to preserve agricultural land and vistas.   

As has become practice for Riverhead’s Town Board, town officials and developers have decided what is best, without resident input.  Most recently, a Westchester developer wanted to build a big luxury resort on protected bluffs of the Sound.  Town officials privately worked with that developer on TDR modification and zoning code changes to allow this type of resort.  Consequently, the code change in the Comp Plan update now best fits the vision of the developer: this proposed code is frightening.  

Please see this link to the new proposed code.

Furthermore, there has been no environmental impact study of this pending code change.  

What is happening is not right.  The Town Board must take a serious look at the proposed code changes in the Comp Plan.  The town should convene public meetings with residents, farmers and the consultants to come up with sound solutions that will accomplish the preservation of land and vistas along the Sound.  At stake is the town’s future for the next 10 years. 

Sincerely,
Karen Kemp
Calverton

Editor’s Note: The Riverhead Town Board is expected to vote on whether to hold an Aug. 20 public hearing on the code at its next meeting, Tuesday, July 16.


Letters to the editor may be emailed to editor@eastendbeacon.com or sent via U.S. Post to P.O. Box 665, New Suffolk, NY  11956. Please include your name, and a telephone number for verification purposes, and don’t submit letters under false names. The Beacon will print all letters that are deemed to not be defamatory, obscene or advertisements, and may edit submissions for clarity and grammar.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

One thought on “Featured Letter: Hold Riverhead Town Accountable for Agritourism Resort Code

  1. Will these projects also get the sweetheart tax exemption deal that Riverhead is famous for and increase the real property taxes again for the single family residences ?

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