This lot on Washington Avenue in Jamesport is one of several that could face development in the near future.
This lot on Washington Avenue in Jamesport is one of several that could face development in the near future.

The steady stream of traffic making its way eastward on the North Fork has certainly thickened this year, and nowhere has felt that thickening more than the Route 25 corridor between Riverhead and Jamesport.

That corridor could face some serious changes if several development proposals currently under consideration end up being built, along a rural highway that could easily be usurped by sprawl heading eastward from Riverhead’s Route 58.

About 80 members of the Jamesport and South Jamesport community packed the Jamesport Meeting House on the morning of Dec. 19 to share their concerns and hear updates from the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association and Save Main Road on the changes coming to town.

A 7-Eleven is proposed at Vinland Commons in Aquebogue.
A 7-Eleven is proposed at Vinland Commons in Aquebogue.

Perhaps the most pressing issue, said community leaders Larry Simms and Georgette Keller, who led the meeting, is a proposed 7-Eleven that is slated to go in to the Vinland Commons shopping center near the Aquebogue-Jamesport border on the corner of Tuthills Lane.

Vinland Commons sued Riverhead Town last year after the town denied a permit for a convenience store on the property, which had been rezoned as part of Riverhead’s 2004 master plan update to preclude retail stores there, even though retail stores had been there before the master plan update and have been approved by the town there since.

Vinland Commons won their case in State Supreme Court in October, when a justice demanded the town issue a building permit for a convenience store there.

Save Main Road founder Larry Simms said at the Dec. 19 meeting that the community is trying a new tack in their opposition to the 7-Eleven — compiling a series of pledges to not shop at 7-Eleven directly to Vinland Commons owners Clete Galasso and his brothers.

“My position is sending anything to town hall on this issue at this point is a waste of time,” said Mr. Simms. “We need to shift our aim to a plan that we think can be effective.”

The “Right to Remain Rural Pledge,” online here, has four basic tenets, pointing out that in order to prosper in the community, developers and landlords should

  1. Observe the letter & spirit of the Master Plan. “Rural Corridor” means a lot.
  2. Adapt & reuse when possible; build only when necessary.
  3. Stick to homegrown brands, not national franchises. We like business owners that live here.
  4. Always consider development & leasing impact on existing businesses.

The pledge points out that at least eight local businesses would be negatively impacted if a 7-Eleven moves to Aquebogue, including Duffy’s Deli, Meetinghouse Deli, Lighthouse Deli, Junda’s Bakery, Lenny’s Bakery, the soon-to-be-opened Hampton Coffee, the American gas station and North Fork Tobacco.

The pledge also points out that the 7-Eleven would be selling alcohol less than 200 feet from the Alternatives for Children pre-school in the Vinland Commons shopping center.

Larry Simms
Larry Simms

While Mr. Simms said the pledge doesn’t exactly constitute a boycott, “we feel these things in our hearts and we feel very strongly about them.”

“They live here. I hope they would be open to a dialogue,” said Ms. Keller.

Another proposal currently of concern to the community is the expansion of the Jamesport Plaza property behind the American gas station, currently before Riverhead’s Zoning Board of Approvals for review.

The applicants are asking for variances for 83 percent impervious surfaces on the lot, when the maximum is 60 percent, and to install 166 parking spaces instead of 171.

Mr. Simms said he doesn’t believe the project is a serious one, since it calls for a 29,000-square-foot grocery store when the maximum building size allowed in the hamlet center zoning district there would be 10,000 square feet.

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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 “Jamesport Wary of Potential for Big Changes

  1. It never ceases to amaze me how these things are done under cover of the (off season) night. Not only is it the right to remain rural, it is no question the TIME to remain rural. Look what 7-11 has done to the Main Rd. in Mattituck, there is no doubt you will see it have the same effect on Jamesport. Do they care? Not a bit. I applaud the local people for at least trying to demand their elected officials represent their wishes and I wish them luck. All of these points being important, but coming on the heels of the new two week minimum rental law in Southold, the point that most needs addressing is adapt and reuse! We simply cannot allow developers to come in, rezone, then build monstrosities claiming there are not enough hotel rooms! Reusing people’s homes and simply swapping out the characters within is essential to maintain the rural character of the North Fork, including Jamesport and South Jamesport.

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