SMR is working with Aquebogue residents to restore the Witch's Hat.
More on this story as it unfolds.
SMR & Riverhead Landmarks Committee Meet with NYSHPO April 21, 2013
SMR met with New York State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to present the Main Road Historic Survey and get more direction on our future submission of all of Main Road as an historic district. Our plan is to create a National Historic District that would give property owners substantial tax incentives to restore their buildings and keep Riverhead rural.
SMR Reboots Lawsuit March 22, 2013
Save Main Road has “re-filed” its Article 78 lawsuit against the Riverhead Town Board for improperly awarding Special Use Permits on the Village at Jamesport development. The action is focused on voiding those permits, & also on highlighting gross errors in the Town’s approval process.
Our original case was dismissed on a technicality. Though we’re confident we could appeal that decision & win, the process could take a year or more, & only then could we begin to deal with the critical issues at the heart of this case. Filing as a “new” case is a procedural shortcut.
This option is possible because the court did not rule on any of our claims, but dismissed the case merely for “lack of standing,” meaning we hadn’t shown we would be harmed by the Special Use Permits decision “in a way different than the general public.” The Judge said this was because we hadn’t identified any individuals by name. Our complaint did explain that adjacent SMR-member homeowners & businesses would be directly & negatively impacted by the decision, & we filed an affidavit to that effect; the court ignored this.
We believe strongly that the court erred, missing the whole point of an action-oriented advocacy group like ours. Requiring that individuals be identified would defeat a key purpose of forming such a group, for which there’s ample precedent.
Instead of proceeding down the long & costly road of proving the lower court wrong, we simply fixed the perceived problem: our papers filed this week include affidavits from a homeowner & from a business owner—both in the immediate project vicinity, & both SMR members—which explain the unique ways in which they will be harmed by the issuance of the Special Use Permits.
It seems that every week, someone else is suing, or settling with, the Town Board. Thoughtful citizens will wonder why...& should at least consider the possibility that many of these new potential liabilities are due in large measure to a pattern of elected officials & staff not following the law.
While there were many flagrant procedural errors made in awarding these permits, even more disturbing are the Councilmembers’ statements that they did NOT consider the economic impact of their decision on the businesses now operating within this community, or on the community as a whole.
Don’t we want our town government to care about the businesses & people that are already here?
And if Councilmembers’ goal is “building the tax base” (which the Town Assessor confirmed is something the Special Permits will NOT do), what’s the point of new offices or bistros if they’ll cause old ones to close, or the tenants to simply move across the street? There’s no net gain.
Our environment is our economy. If we despoil Main Road, our piece of the North Fork will stop being special. The more it looks like the rest of Long Island, the quicker agritourism will dry up. We’ll be twice-cursed: our economic engine will run out of gas, and we’ll drive down our once-pastoral roads and think we’re in Brookhaven.
BTW—we’ve never said nothing should be built here; we just insist new development conform to the regulations that were designed to keep the Rural Corridor from becoming Route 58 Extension.
Site Plan Activity
On a separate track from the legal challenge, Save Main Road has been very busy on the planning front, & has considerable progress to report.
Partly in response to our concerns, the Planning Board brought in an independent engineer to inspect the site & advise the town. Though nothing is guaranteed & we have to maintain a close watch both in town hall & at the site, it appears the town: a] will not consider issuing excavation permits until a site plan has been accepted; b] will require that the developer justify the amount of material removed, & c] will strongly encourage retention of the land’s existing natural contours wherever possible [in contrast to the original plan to bulldoze the entire site like a pancake].
Further, the Architectural Review Board rejected the developer’s site plan. The ARB took a rather strong position, & clearly its members have listened to what SMR leaders—notably Richard Wines & Georgette Keller—have been seeking for years. The Village architects have already come back to the ARB with tentative changes, & we’re encouraged. Their new approach comes much closer to “making Main Road turn a corner” into the development, so that it seems an extension of the hamlet. And, instead of 10 identical buildings the size of George Young, there will be a broad & varied mix of storefronts & offices more representative of those already in Jamesport. They also say they’ll cut back to 2 bistros.
We expect something to be built on this site; the latest plans in progress represent a far better fit for Main Road...& we’re not yet finished.
New Matching Gift
In conjunction with this new push on the legal front, Group for the East End has announced another challenge grant for Save Main Road! Those interested in helping us ensure that what’s built on Main Road both adheres to the law & blends into our community will see their contributions doubled. And, all donations are 100% tax-deductible:
• by credit card: www.groupfortheeastend.org [click “Save Main Road—Jamesport”] • mail checks to Group for the East End/SMR, Box 1792, Southold NY 11971
SMR is an unincorporated association of some 300 individuals, 90% of whom own homes or businesses in Jamesport, South Jamesport, & Aquebogue. Our mission is to protect & preserve both the rural character of Main Road, & the agritourism economy it makes possibleWe have partnered with Richard Wines and the Riverhead Landmarks Preservation Committee
to author a new survey of Main Road. We hope to create a new Main Road historic district
that could benefit property owners with substantial tax benefits.