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1998-09-19
Riverhead, NY. Depot's engines shut down.

The town board in Riverhead just didn't follow the law -- and as a result, all the bulldozers out on Route 58 shut down their engines this week. A lawsuit filed by several local residents and the Riverhead Business Improvement District, led to a unanimous decision last Monday by a four member panel of the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court. The court ruled that the town of Riverhead did not fulfill its obligations as the lead agency under the state's Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), to review such things as the 432,000 s.f. project's impact on groundwater, air pollution, and increased traffic. No environmental impact statement was done by the town. A commercial overlay district was created for the project, on a 51 acre parcel that had been primarily zoned for residential. Newsday quoted one frustrated construction worker as saying: "That's it. We're all out of work." That may be the refrain also if this huge project is ever built. Anchored in part by a Home Depot, the project will have a significant impact on jobs elsewhere in the building supply store industry on Long Island. Town officials are somewhat placed in a corner by this decision, since they have reportedly budgeted a $1 million impact fee into their next year's town budget. But the court's ruling shows how a few citizens can intervene -- even to the point of shutting down the bulldozers. The delay at this point may not last, but citizen intervention has at least won a victory for public process in the larger war against superstore sprawl.

What you can do: This so-called Riverhead Centre has been labeled the last big regional shopping mall on Long Island. There will be no such things as "the last big regional mall" anywhere until local officials begin to place limits on the size of retail developments. Riverhead already has a downtown business district, but the developers of this project, East End Properties, reveal their attitude towards existing commercial activity by calliing this roadside mall "Riverhead Centre", using the English spelling of the word to add some status and class to the project. Look up Riverhead, NY on the internet, and email town officials that Riverhead already has one "Centre", and certainly doesn't need another one.










 
 
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