For many members of the Riverside community, the passage Tuesday of the Riverside Revitalization Action Plan was an early Christmas present. For Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, it was to be her last action in office as town supervisor. But for everyone involved, it was just the first step in what will still be a long road ahead for one of the most economically challenged communities on Long Island.
The Southampton Town Board voted unanimously in their last board meeting of 2015 Tuesday afternoon to approve two resolutions paving the way for the redevelopment of Riverside. The first resolution adopted the State Environmental Quality Review Act findings statement for the project, the second adopted the zoning overlay district that will be used to implement the plan.
The adoption of the “form-based” zoning overlay district, which property owners could use instead of the underlying zoning on their properties when they plan redevelopment, was a core feature of the plan.
The overlay district is divided into six distinct areas, mostly in concentric areas around the Riverside traffic circle, with the tallest buildings and the greatest number of uses allowed closest to the traffic circle and more limited development with each ring out from there.
If property owners decide to opt in to the new zoning, they will also be required to implement green building designs and hire local workers.
Developers Renaissance Downtowns, who worked with Southampton on the plan and will be developing 10 of the 400 acres it covers in Riverside, has been working with the Riverside community to draft the plan in keeping with their wishes, drawing to a great degree from the support of community liaisons Siris Barrios and Angela Huneault, who have been a constant presence in the community for the past two years, leading community meetings, art classes, petition drives and festivals to help breathe life into Riverside.
Ms. Barrios was with her family in Ecuador for the holidays, but she joined the meeting via Facetime, watching the proceedings from a community member’s iPhone Ms. Throne-Holst placed on her desk.
For Ms. Huneault, who has lived in Flanders for 37 years, the adoption was a dream come true.
“You are telling this community that we are your community,” she told the town board. “Three days before Christmas, you’re giving us the gift we’ve all been waiting for.”
Flanders, Riverside & Northampton Community Association President Vince Taldone said that, while the community seems to have more hope of things getting better than they have in decades, the plan can’t be implemented without a commitment to advanced septic treatment systems from Suffolk County.
“We send bundles of money to Hauppauge. It’s time for some of that money to come back to us,” he said, adding that the community is ready to help Southampton Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, who leaves for a post on the county legislature in the new year, to fight for county assistance in Riverside.